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About the project

March 2003 – March 2013. Ten years of war seen from Iraq and elsewhere on a webdocumentary that is updated daily to May, 1 – the day that George Bush declared the “Mission Accomplished”.

What do we know about Iraq? What images does it conjure up? A birthplace of writing, gold (the black sort), a primetime war, an ousted dictator and, today, the occasional blurry, blood-stained news.

The verbosity that once gushed from Western media has dried up and the lingering impression surrounding Baghdad today is one of everyday but faraway chaos. But what do we know – really – about Iraqis’ daily lives today, 10 years after the second Gulf War began? What do Shiites, Sunnites, Kurds and Christians have to say about their aspirations, sufferings, doubts and hopes? That was what we wanted to hear and see. This webdocumentary is all about what they have to say, in their video stories, their photos and their interviews.

The goal is to get the facts straight from the source and home in on an undeniably less “West-centred” perspective than usual.

Columnists from three partner European dailies – Le Monde, die Süddeutsche Zeitung and The Guardian – have contributed to this picture. International experts help to unravel its complex history and the geopolitical stakes down the road. Last but not least, we also called press photographers and newspaper illustrators to the witness stand.

At the end of the day, the goal is to understand a decade in Iraq, enlightened by the people who made it happen.

This project ties in with the series that started with Afghanistan in 2011, which you can enjoy (or enjoy again) on our website.

The nine sections

Things seen. We asked a woman director, Katia Jarjoura, to tell us about “her” Iraq in a series of “pillboxes” that captured the moment in and around Baghdad. These 10 snapshots add up to the story of her month-long stint in Iraq in 2013.

Iraq, my country. Iraq through the eyes and lenses of seasoned or starting-out young directors. They each share their own take on their country, and allow us to see common Iraqis and their remarkable testimonies.

Trip diary. A 10-episode, commentary-free road movie by a French-Iraqi journalist Feurat Alani who travelled that country from North to South.

Images of Iraq. The principle is simple: 5 Iraqi photographers and 5 foreign photographers tell us about 10 snapshots from their files, providing 100 living angles adding up to a 360° perspective.

In exile. They left their country to start their lives anew across the world. We met these “Iraqis afar” and brought back 10 portraits of men and women with troubled stories.

Iraq 2.0. Did Wikileaks change the course of Iraq’s history? How is the country that invented writing living with the 2.0 revolution today? That is the question we try to answer.

The newspaper kiosk. Our partner newspapers Le Monde (France), The Guardian (UK) and Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany) provided a series of articles spanning the decade from 2003 to 2013 in Iraq.

Pen strokes. A great drawing is worth more than a bad speech and a good old platitude beats a poor presentation. 10 caricature artists from around the world tell us about 10 years of Iraqi news.

Background. Interviews with experts, articles and letters are just about everything you need to present Iraq and its history? The goal is not to say everything there is to say: it is to provide the keys to understand a complicated picture. That is our message here.




Founded in 1821, The Guardian can no longer be described as just a newspaper. Under Guardian news and media, one of the UK’s most successful media companies, its flagship guardian.co.uk has become one of the world’s most visted news websites. In addition to the contents of the print edition, there are specialised sections on the arts, sports, travel, the media, as well as multimedia content (documentaries, podcasts) produced by staffers, offering what must be one of the most complete English-language news services. Owned by the Scott Trust, the Guardian is generally considered to be the centre-left title of reference. Though close to New Labour, it’s tradition of editorial independence means that it is often highly critical of the government.


Left-leaning Le Monde, self-proclaimed “newspaper of reference”, is the planet’s main French-language daily, with 35,000 copies distributed abroad. Despite being considered an evening paper since its foundation in 1944, it wraps daily at 10.30 a.m and is on the streets of Paris by midday. In order to widen its readership and soften its longstanding reputation for austerity, the template and contents have been modernized, made more spacious and reader friendly. With over 40 million visits monthly, lemonde.fr is the number one news website in French, featuring articles from the paper edition and hosting a large number of blogs. It also includes regular news updates, slideshows and video content.


Founded in Munich in 1945, this “intellectual newspaper of German left-wing liberalism” is the one nation’s daily mainstay. The SZ, renowned for its independence, is also famed for its Streiflicht, a daily front-page column that offers an ironic take on current events, as well the main feature on page 3. Much of this broadsheet is given over to coverage and analysis of national and international news. Some of the articles on the website are enhanced with SZ-produced videos. It also devotes a special site for the younger generation: jetzt.de.



ARTE GEIE – Information department

Director: Marco Nassivera

Editors in chief ARTE Reportage: Philippe Brachet, Uwe Lothar Müller

Online editors: Donatien Huet, David Zurmely

Production: Sandrine Heitz, Cécile Thomas, Caroline Kelsch

Translation: Éclair Group

Mixing: Marc Gigoux, Thierry Weil, Michel Puls

Music: Nahawend, by Fawzy Al Ayedy. Album: Oud Aljazira. Label: Buda Musique/Musiques en balade. Year: 1999.

Website made by FCINQ

“Trip diary”

Direction: Feurat Alani. Montage: Santiago Avalos. ARTE GEIE/Baozi Production – December 2012

“Things seen”

Direction: Katia Jarjoura. Montage: Wissam Charraf. ARTE GEIE/Baozi Production – January 2013

“Irak, my country”

Direction: Abdul Rahim Mackie, Ahmed Taleb al Sultan, Ali al Hadithy, Malik Alawi, Omar Yassine. ARTE GEIE/Baozi Production – January 2013

Direction: Namer Ablhed Huna, Awat Ali, Soran Qurbani, Ismaeel Omar Ali, Haval Salah Ali. Picture, sound, montage: Dhafir Ali Mashy, Ali Muhamed Ramzan, Hemn Zahir, Koshish Bakr, Anwar Ahmed,  Kerîm Muhamedi, Mensûr Elyasî, Jêhat Barîs, Ranj Abdulla, Kurdo Ahmad, Habib Kadri, Evan Aziz, Farman Ali. Alterdoc – 2010-2012


On the third day of the hearing at the army tribunal in Fort Bragg in North Carolina, attention has turned from Lynndie England, accused of having tortured Iraqi prisoners. The tribunal must decide if the female soldier will be court-martialled after, on Thursday 5th August, witnesses revealed the climate of violence, threats and impunity which existed in Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison.

Special agent Tyler Pieron interrogated the prisoners. He had a long talk with the soldier Joseph Darby on 13th January 2004, the evening on which the latter, at first anonymously, denounced the abuse and handed over a CD containing the famous photographs to corroborate it. “Joseph Darby was concerned for his safety and the lives of the prisoners. He was frightened of corporal Charles Graner and Sergeant Jeval Davis [who will be court-martialled], both known for being extremely violent. They were the big shots of the high security section. According to what I learned from testimonies collected during the investigation into the torture, Corporal Graner seemed to be the leader. He threatened me.” Tyler Pieron added that “abuse was commonplace throughout the prison”.

Israel Rivera, a military intelligence analyst, took part in some interrogations. He reveal what he saw in the high security section of Abu Ghraib at the end of October 2003: “In the night of 24th-25th, three prisoners thrown naked on the floor, their hands tied, and placed in such a way that it looked like they were having sex” with several guards looking on in an amused fashion, including Charles Graner. “Everyone was laughing and having a good time.”

Armin Cruz, who was there and who worked for military intelligence, “explained that the prisoners had been involved in the rape of a boy. ‘One held him and one raped him while the other watched.’ Armin Cruz looked me in the eye and said: ‘you’re not going to tell anyone about this.’”

Israël Rivera didn’t say anything about it until January 2004 when there was an official investigation in Abu Ghraib. Armin Cruz is the first intelligence officer to be exposed for taking part in the abuse.

Special agent Manora Iem also questioned prisoners. “On the way to an interrogation in the high-security section, I remember seeing a prisoner tied to the ceiling of his cell, his arms above his head, feet barely on the ground. When I asked what was going on, the military police officer present told me that was what Iraqi guards did. I alerted my superiors.” In January 2004, Manora Iem was involved in the investigation into the abuse. “I questioned prisoners about the ill-treatment they had suffered. Those who cooperated mentioned corporal Graner, a woman whose description matched Lynndie England and Sergeant Jeval Davis. One prisoner reported having a gun pointed at his head and a guard said: ‘I could kill you if I wanted to.’”

Helga Aldabe-Moreno, a nursing auxiliary, looked after the prisoners. One evening, as she went to visit a sick prisoner in the high-security unit, she remembers seeing “three military police officers standing around a pyramid of prisoners, naked, with their heads covered by a bag. All the prisoners in that area, whether in their cells or not, were naked”.

Rick Hernandez, Lynndie England’s civilian lawyer, quoted a written testimony “reporting the existence of a prostitution network within the military police at Abu Ghraib”.

After three days of hearing, the testimony seems to describe two distinct stories: that of a handful of soldiers, including Lynndie England, who thought they could do whatever they wanted in a prison where the officers seemed to have disappeared; and that, also at Abu Ghraib, of the methods, considered legal by the army, to make prisoners talk. It involved physical and mental pressure, notably sleep deprivation and starvation and the systematic use of nudity. Prisoners that the army wanted to talk obtained clothes as a reward for their cooperation.

Special agent Neal Gruhn worked at Baghdad international airport. He was called in to assist with the investigation into the abuse. He questioned a translator called Musef who worked for the contractor Titan and remembered two incidents. “One prisoner had to cross the entire prison, naked, before being interrogated and another, also naked, when a military police officer put his hand on his hip and asked him if he liked it.”

For the defence, if such methods had not been used, some guards would not have felt authorized to subject prisoners to whatever else took their fancy.

“We now have a clear image of multiple sexual abuse committed by people other than Lynndie England, who are not being charge”, states Rick Hernandez.

Captain Brent Fitch was the legal advisor to the American army in Iraq and tried to defend the institution on Thursday. “If an interrogator wanted to deviate in his approach, he would have to request an exemption. After coming up the chain of command, the request was put to me. I received one or two a week, and General Ricardo Sanchez [who commanded the American forces in Iraq] was informed. If the request was authorised, the interrogation took place in a room with a two-way mirror, which allowed people outside to know what was happening.”

So much for the theory. Captain Jonathan Crisp, Lynndie England’s lawyer, reminded the same Captain Fitch that the army had repeatedly refused the International Committee of the Red Cross access to certain prisoners, contrary to the Geneva Convention recognised by the American army.

The mobile phone: a radical change

Jean François Leroy, director of the Visa pour l’image festival, noticed, at the start of April, just before the Abu Ghraib scandal, a turning point in press photography: “The Reuters agency had broadcast an image showing a Palestinian militant photographing the funeral of another Palestinian with a mobile phone. I never thought that onlookers would vie with professionals. The fact that in twelve seconds, just anybody can send any photograph from a mobile phone changes things considerably!”

Christian Caujolle, director of the Vu agency, adds: “Showing photos of Abu Ghraib at Visa is even more important because these documents signal a radical change in the status of the profession. Professional reporters will have to get used to coexisting with images – I won’t call them photographs – by amateurs and, as a result, redefine their role and their approach.”

At the start of August, the Dutch press agency ANP announced to its clients that it would offer photographs taken by amateurs: “With digitization, lots of people have cameras on them, so they can quickly take photographs of events”, say ANP, who are aware of the risks of tampering. The agency is stepping up its system of collecting images from witnesses which has been used for a long time, notably during disasters and bombings.

Mr Leroy stresses another effect of mobile phones having cameras: “Hopefully, technological developments will make life more difficult for dictators. We’ve learned that the Americans prohibited their soldiers from carrying mobile phones with cameras during operations. It’s ridiculous: how can you rewind technology?”

Michel Guérin, “Le Monde”, 19 August 2004

Iraq 2.0

Abu Ghraib, the realm of ultra-violence, fear and impunity

Posted on 19.03.2013

Damning testimony from the American Fort Bragg army tribunal.

By Eric Leser – “Le Monde”, 7 August 2004

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Le Monde

Left-leaning Le Monde, self-proclaimed “newspaper of reference”, is the planet’s main French-language daily. In order to widen its readership and soften its longstanding reputation for austerity, the template and contents have been modernized, made more spacious and reader friendly. With over 40 million visits monthly, lemonde.fr is the number one news website in French, featuring articles from the paper edition and hosting a large number of blogs. It also includes regular news updates, slideshows and video content.