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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.

 

Partners

theguardian

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.

lemonde

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.

sueddeutsche

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.

 

Credits

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

 

Since the start of the war, the hospital has treated 400 amputees (out of 600 who have survived their injuries). A new centre for amputees is under construction. In the corridors, you see nothing but wheelchairs, missing legs, shortened arms. Michelle doesn’t feel sorry for herself: a member of the Michigan National Guard, she had volunteered, and had just re-enlisted. However, thinking about the driver on her team makes her break down in tears. He was killed, along with the interpreter, whilst she and the gunner survived. “His sister came to see me yesterday,” she explains, before carrying on with her story. “I arrived on 26th January. For two weeks, I had an operation every two days.”

Today, Michelle has a titanium implant in her thigh and pins in her hip “to keep the bones together”. She has two holes in her remaining foot and is undergoing speech therapy because the breathing tubes damaged her throat and she finds it hard to swallow. She communicates by email with her unit, who are still in Baghdad . “I don’t really agree with what Bush did”, she says. “But in our unit, since reinforcements arrived, nobody has been injured by a home-made bomb.”

A man dressed in green seems very friendly towards her. They look like old friends. He is Lieutenant Colonel Donald Gajewski, the orthopaedic surgeon who performed the amputation. He has good news: the scar should disappear within a year. And less good news: the bone is regrowing in the amputated leg. “He is so kind”, says Michelle.

“Feeling guilty”

With the influx of wounded, Walter-Reed has become a vast, hostile, finicky bureaucracy, but the great military fraternity is still there. Those who are looking after the wounded today could be on the ground tomorrow. “I didn’t like Afghanistan and I’m not sure we’re making progress in Iraq”, explains nurse Astrid Sturm. “But staying here, on the home front, you start to feel guilty. In the end you volunteer.”

Women have played an unprecedented role in the war in Iraq. In four years, 150,000 have been deployed, 70 have been killed. On the ground, the ratio is currently one woman to ten men. For sergeant Wendy Abel, who spent a year in Mosul after joining up at 17 to pay for her studies, there is nothing incongruous about women being in Iraq. “We are needed there.”

Women mainly carry out combat-support missions: driving trucks, delivering supplies. In a guerrilla war, they are too exposed. Astrid Sturm is head nurse on ward 45 C, the intensive-care unit. She greets the injured when they arrive from the American hospital based near Frankfurt in Germany. “Sometimes they have so many bandages that even their commanders can’t recognise them. I always ask the families to bring photos. It humanises them, it’s important for the nurses. It shows there is someone underneath all that.”

Since the start of the stabilisation plan for Baghdad, the nurse has noticed fewer bomb injuries. “But more bullet injuries, caused by snipers. It’s worrying. It means they are lying in wait for soldiers.”

Michelle Rudzitis is staying in one of the rooms that have been rented by the Pentagon at the Hilton hotel. She would like to return to Michigan, but this is her first try with a “bionic” leg. They have explained to her that you can get “all kinds” of prosthetics legs: “For running, skiing, rollerblading… And they add artificial skin, with tattoos even if you like.” Michelle would like to leave as soon as possible. She doesn’t care about not being able to run. It was dancing she liked.

The newspaper kiosk

Wounded in Iraq, amputee in Washington

Posted on 21.03.2013

She joined the army late, at the age of 24. “I was doing nothing with my life.” When her truck hit a mine, in January, in Baghdad, she had nearly eight years’ service. Michelle Rudzitis is one of hundreds of female soldiers who have been wounded in Iraq. She is the third to have a leg amputated in a year.

By Corine Lesnes – “Le Monde”, 11 April 2007

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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.