Author Archive

‘Baghdad Night’ keeps alive folk tales of the dead

BAGHDAD (AFP) — As Iraq rebuilds after decades of brutality, one Baghdad resident is bent on reviving an ancient folk tale that, like much of the country’s history, risks being lost in time. “Baghdad Night” is a 10-minute 3D animated film made against all odds by an Iraqi team led by film-maker Furat al-Jamil. It tells […]

In Baghdad square, varied life paths since statue felled

BAGHDAD (AFP) – It was an iconic moment, viewed by people around the world on television, that came to symbolise the fall of Iraq’s capital Baghdad on April 9, 2003. But residents have competing memories of the decade since the statue of Saddam Hussein was famously toppled in Firdos Square, among them three men — […]

Iraq’s people yet to feel benefit of oil boom

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraq’s economy is expanding and government coffers are swelling, but Sabah Nuri, like many Iraqis who still struggle with poverty and poor services, has yet to see the benefits of rising oil exports. Nuri is lucky: he has a job, albeit a relatively menial one, and a roof over his head. But […]

Decade on, Iraq far cry from pre-war vision

BAGHDAD (AFP) – The US-led invasion of Iraq that toppled Saddam Hussein aimed to enshrine a liberal democracy in the heart of the Middle East but instead unleashed sectarian violence and endless political disputes. Launched a decade ago with the stated goal of wiping out Saddam’s stores of weapons of mass destruction, which were never […]

Syria gets ‘blowback’ after playing with fire in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AFP) – At the peak of Iraq’s sectarian war, officials in Baghdad accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad‘s regime of allowing Islamist militants to cross the two countries’ border to sow chaos. Now, Damascus may be feeling the consequences of “playing with fire” as the uprising against Assad’s rule enters its 23rd month and regime […]

Using an Apple TV for journalism training

Last month, as part of a three-year journalism training programme run primarily by BBC Media Action, I helped train 10 Jordanian and Palestinian journalists on using basic web and digital tools to improve their journalism, digital ethics, and things like that. It was really fun and illuminating. I’ve written more about the project and the […]

Kerala – a journey through God’s own country

Kerala - a journey through God's own country

In November, I spent a week travelling through Kerala with some friends — it was a great trip, though extremely rushed. I totally recommend it, but wouldn’t suggest you try and make it as hectic as we did: we spent a week going through Trivandrum, Alleppey, Periyar, Munnar and Kochi, and didn’t really see any […]

Baghdad Protests – In Pictures

Baghdad Protests - In Pictures

Demonstrators supporting Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki gathered at Baghdad’s Tahrir Square today — here are a few pictures from the rally. Hundreds back Maliki amid calls for Iraq PM to quit By Prashant Rao BAGHDAD (AFP) — Hundreds of demonstrators rallied in central Baghdad backing Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Saturday as the latest […]

The Great Christmas Day Baghdad Flood

The Great Christmas Day Baghdad Flood

On December 25, 2012, it rained in Baghdad — this would not be a notable fact in any other city but the Iraqi capital, whose sewage systems remain woefully under-equipped for anything but the minimum of precipitation. Unsurprisingly, what turned out to be Baghdad’s heaviest rains in 30 years basically flooded entire streets of the […]

Syria — a rebel victory, a school and a devastated city

Syria -- a rebel victory, a school and a devastated city

Earlier in December, I spent some time covering the conflict in Syria for AFP — much of it was spent in Turkey, but here are a collection of photographs I took and stories I wrote from my assignment. Hunger sharpens misery in Syria’s Aleppo ALEPPO, Syria (AFP) — Residents of Aleppo have suffered through months of brutal […]

Jakarta – A Brief Visit

Jakarta - A Brief Visit

I briefly got a chance to visit Jakarta in November, and stayed with an old friend — I didn’t explore a huge amount of it, and mostly spent it at my friend’s place hanging out. It’s a massive city, and so much time is spent on the road (there is effectively no public transport system, […]

Christmas in Baghdad 2012

Christmas in Baghdad 2012

After visiting the Our Lady of Salvation Church in central Baghdad, the site of a brutal massacre in 2010, I wandered around some nearby shops to take some Christmas-related photographs. I filed them for the AFP wire, but this is my favourite of the ones that were not used. Here’s the story I wrote about […]

‘Looking for nothing’ in Iraq’s desert

'Looking for nothing' in Iraq's desert

QALAAT MUZEIBLEH, Iraq (AFP) – At the end of a research trip to an oil field in east Iraq, Ruba Husari took a detour to visit a site she had wanted to see for some time. When she arrived it was barren — but still she was delighted. Less than 10 kilometres (six miles) from […]

Paralympic dream over, Iraqi wakes up to old life

Paralympic dream over, Iraqi wakes up to old life

BATHA, Iraq (AFP) — For a moment, Ahmed Naas thought his life would change — he overcame the odds to not just qualify for the Paralympics, but briefly held a world record, and was eventually awarded a silver medal. He dreamed of fame in his native Iraq, adulation from his friends and compatriots, and a […]

Iraq investment concerns remain as trade fair ends

BAGHDAD (AFP) — Nuri al-Maliki may have trumpeted Iraq last week as the top destination for investment in the region, but experts warn that myriad problems keep it from being a good choice for all but the most adventurous. Excessive red tape, rampant corruption, an unreliable judicial system and still-inadequate security, as well as a […]

Iraq needs $1 trillion to rebuild: investment chief

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraq needs up to $1 trillion over the next 10 years to rebuild its crumbling infrastructure and battered economy, its investment chief said in an interview on Thursday. Sami al-Araji‘s remarks come during the Baghdad International Fair, Iraq’s biggest trade showcase in more than 20 years, as the government looks to court […]

Bush-Quayle ’92 in Iraq!

Bush-Quayle '92 in Iraq!

With the US election coming up, my thoughts turned to a photograph I took a few weeks ago, while on a boat ride of the Tigris, the river that flows through Baghdad. I didn’t realise it at the time, but someone pointed out to me later that our boat driver was wearing a very unusual […]

Iraq PM in power grab by ousting bank chief: experts

by Prashant Rao Note: This article was published by AFP on October 22, 2012. It can be found in full here. BAGHDAD (AFP) – The targeting of Iraq’s well-respected central bank chief appears to be a move by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to consolidate power and sends a bad message to international investors, experts and […]

Ex-minister slams Iraq PM for tolerating graft

by Prashant Rao Note: This article was originally published by AFP on February 14, 2012. It can be found in full here. LONDON (AFP) — The first minister to quit Iraqi premier Nuri al-Maliki‘s unity government criticized the prime minister for turning a blind eye to worsening corruption among his loyalists, in an interview with […]

Iraq Violence – Opening Up

One of the most opaque issues that we cover here in Baghdad is violence — officials are reticent to be quoted on the record, journalists are frequently restricted from accessing the sites of attacks, and authorities often clean up areas where bombings or shootings have taken place very quickly after they occur (which is also […]

A year after murder, Iraq press freedom threatened

by Prashant Rao Note: This article was published by AFP on September 5, 2012. It can be found in full here, and photographs illustrating the story can be found here. BAGHDAD (AFP) – One year after a prominent Iraqi journalist and government critic was killed, no one has been arrested for his murder and activists […]

Iraq political row threatens future polls

by Prashant Rao Note: This story was originally published by AFP on August 29, 2012. It can be found in full here. BAGHDAD (AFP) – A bitter row between Iraq’s political blocs is threatening the future independence of the country’s election commission and is casting doubt on whether provincial polls due next year will be […]

Facebook Subscribe – I Relent

So this morning I signed up for Facebook Subscribe, which has basically been a way to emulate Google+ and Twitter to allow journalists to share their content with a wider audience. As with most things (like my attempts to figure out Tumblr and Google+), I just want to give it a try and see how it works, […]

Still raw wounds greet US medics in Iraq’s Fallujah

by Prashant Rao Note: This article was published by AFP on August 8, 2012. It can be found in full here. FALLUJAH, Iraq (AFP) – In an Iraqi city where US military offensives levelled entire neighbourhoods in 2004, a hospital has turned to American doctors to treat children with heart problems that residents blame on […]