Tag Archives: Iraq

60 Minutes on ISIS

This Sunday, 60 Minutes devoted two segments to ISIS.  The first chronicled ISIS from the ground in Iraq.  Here how that segment began:

Today, America’s top military officer, General Martin Dempsey, said the U.S. and its allies will attack ISIS from many directions. “We want them to wake up every day realizing they’re being squeezed,” he said. American pilots have hit the Islamic extremist group in Iraq nearly 200 times now, and soon the U.S. will be bombing ISIS in Syria.

America was drawn back into war when ISIS began to overrun part of northern Iraq called Kurdistan. Kurdistan is semi-autonomous with its own military called the Peshmerga. With American air support, the Peshmerga are holding a tense front line against ISIS.

Earlier this month, we started our reporting on that front line to explain ISIS; what it is, where it came from and how it blitzed through two countries. In June, the leader of ISIS declared himself ruler of a new nation, which he calls The Islamic State.

The second segment discussed the “repercussions” of ISIS with former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and King Abdullah II of Jordan.  Here is how that segment began:

President Obama’s plan hinges on arming and training moderate Syrian militias to defeat ISIS. The president has been criticized for not doing that sooner. You’re about to hear from two men who saw the threat early, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and King Abdullah II of Jordan.

Jordan is a moderate, American ally, nearly surrounded by war, with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to its west, Syria to its north and Iraq to the east.

Today we spoke to King Abdullah in New York before this month’s U.N. General Assembly meeting. For hundreds of years, his family ruled the holiest shrines in Islam. And the king was nearly at a loss for words today when we asked him about the head of ISIS, who claims to lead all Muslims.

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Fareed Zakaria on “How to defeat ISIS”

Last weekend, Fareed Zarakia began his CNN show, Fareed Zakaria GPS, by discussing President Obama’s speech on ISIS.  Zakaria provided his “take” on “how to defeat ISIS.”

Here is a description of the segment from the CNN website:

President Obama’s speech Wednesday night outlined a tough, measured strategy to confront ISIS. But let’s make sure in the execution of this strategy that the U.S. learns something from the 13 years since September 11, 2001 and the war against al Qaeda.

Here are a few lessons to think about:

One – Don’t always take the bait. The United States has to act against this terror group. But it should do so at a time and manner of its choosing rather than jumping when ISIS wants it to jump.

Lesson two: Don’t overestimate the enemy. ISIS is a formidable foe, but the counterforces to it have only just begun…While ISIS is much more sophisticated than al Qaeda in its operations and technology, it has one major, inherent weakness. Al Qaeda was an organization that was pan-Islamic, trying to appeal to all Muslims. This group is a distinctly sectarian organization. ISIS is anti-Shiite as well as deeply hostile to Kurds, Christians and many other inhabitants in the Middle East. This means that it has large numbers of foes in the region who will fight against it, not because the United States wants them to but in their own interests.

Lesson number three: Remember politics. The Obama administration has mapped out a smart strategy in Iraq, pressing the Baghdad government to include more Sunnis. But that is yet to happen – the Shiite parties have dragged their feet over any major concessions to the Sunnis. This is a crucial issue because if the United States is seen as defending two non-Sunni regimes – Iraq and Syria – against a Sunni uprising, it will not win.

Watch the video for the full Take, or read the WaPo column

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Iraqi Refugee’s New Home

Earlier this week, we posted a This American Life episode discussing the difficulties Iraqi refugees face in seeking asylum in the United States. Today, CBS Sunday Morning featured a story about an Iraqi camera man that made it to the US with his family.  

Here is a description of the story:  

Lancaster, Pa., is not where I thought I’d find him. But here in a place where the old so easily meshes with the new, maybe there was no better place to find an old friend’s new home.

We hadn’t seen each other in more than a decade, since the unwelcome circumstance that first brought us together: the war in Iraq.

It was in Baghdad on the eve of the U.S. invasion that I first met Atheer Hameed.

He was an Iraqi photographer, a cameraman, well-known in Baghdad for his work shooting soap operas and documentaries. CBS News hired him not only for his eye, but for his language and local knowledge.

But it turned out Atheer’s greatest asset was his courage.



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July 7, 2013 · 9:54 pm

Iraqis Seeking Asylum

This past weekend, This American Life feature the story of Kirk Johnson and the thousands of Iraqis seeking asylum in the United States after aiding America in the War in Iraq.  

Here is a description of the story, its prologue, and two acts: 

The truly incredible story of a guy named Kirk Johnson who started a list of hundreds of Iraqis who needed to get out of their country. They were getting death threats, and he was their only hope. Only 26 and living in his aunt’s basement, he had no idea what to do. How Kirk kind of succeeded spectacularly and failed spectacularly at the same time.


PROLOGUE–Ira talks with Producer Nancy Updike about when she first met Kirk Johnson in 2007. At the time he was mulling a crazy plan that involved Iraqi refugees, the Coast Guard and a boat. (5 minutes)

ACT ONE: RELUCTANT SAILOR–Kirk sleepwalks through an open window and into a completely different life. He explains how he starts compiling a list of Iraqis who’d worked with the U.S. government after the invasion, whose lives were now in danger because of that. Carrying around that list gets some very strange reactions from government officials. Kirk is founder and executive director of The List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies. His memoir To Be a Friend Is Fatalcomes out in September. (23 minutes.)

ACT TWO: EMAILS FROM A DEAD MAN.–To get a sense of what may be broken about our process for bringing these Iraqis into the US, the ones who worked with US forces and who believe their lives are now in danger because of that, Kirk Johnson tells Nancy Updike about one guy. Almost a year of his emails were forwarded to Kirk, who printed them out and started to realize that he was looking at a dead man’s attempt to immigrate to the U.S. (29 minutes)

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July 2, 2013 · 4:29 pm