Farnaz Fassihi is the deputy bureau chief of Middle East and Africa for The Wall Street Journal and the author of Waiting for An Ordinary Day, a memoir of her four years covering the Iraq war and witnessing the unraveling of life for Iraqi citizens. In May 2006, Fassihi was awarded the prestigious Henry Pringle Lecture Award for her Iraq coverage by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Her coverage of the EgyptAir flight 990 crash won the New England News Executive Award as well as a finalist nomination for the Livingston Award.
Question: Is there a consensus on America’s presence in Iraq?
Fassihi: As you say, Iraq is very complicated. It’s not black and white. And, depending on who you talk to, you get different answers. I think the consensus is that the Iraqis were not expecting this and are not happy about the aftermath of the war. Even the Iraqis who were happy that Saddam was toppled are not happy that security fell apart, that the country was dragged through civil war, that 5 million people are now displaced and refugees. I think that the aftermath definitely criticized by most people. But, I think, in terms of whether the Iraqis want the US to stay, whether they want us to leave, what know what should happen from now on really depends on who you speak to.
Question: What are the loudest voices emerging in Iraq?
Fassihi: I think, on the Sunni side, the loudest voices have been the voices of the insurgents and the voices of, you know, Sunnis who are deeply resentful and have even, you know, resorted to violence in order to get their points across, just because of the nature of the attacks. It’s spectacular. It gets a lot of attention. A lot of people die. And, I think, in terms of the Shias, it definitely would be in the voices of the clerics and the voices of Islamic parties that’s been heard because they’ve been strengthened after the US invasion and, you know, most of the parties who are now in charge, the Shia parties, have a very strong Islamic background, you know, the, Muqtada al-Sadr, who’s a cleric and whose father was a renown cleric, is also allowed… somebody who’s prominent and whose voice we often hear.