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Big economic boom in Basra
February 24th, 2012
04:28 PM ET

Big economic boom in Basra

Not all regions of Iraq have been impacted by sectarian violence. The oil hub of Basra is seeing a big boom in economic growth. Frederik Pleitgen takes us to Iraq's second largest city.

While in Basra, Frederik Pleitgen discovered that the sport of boxing can transcend language barriers... And it turns out Fred isn't bad in the ring!

Keep in touch with Back|Story on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @BackStory. Also follow CNN's Fred Pleitgen on Twitter @FPleitgenCNN.

Filed under: backstory • Iraq • journalists • Middle East • Sport • Sport
January 19th, 2012
08:28 PM ET

Iraqi Journalists battle for Freedom of Speech

For more on stories like this keep in touch with Back|Story on Facebook and Twitter @BackStory

and you can follow Jomana Karadsheh in Baghdad on Twitter @JomanaCNN

Filed under: Arab World • backstory • Iraq • journalists
January 12th, 2012
01:01 AM ET

Is Democracy waning in Iraq?

For these and other stories, keep updated by staying connected with Back|Story on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @BackStory

Filed under: Arab World • backstory • Interviews • Iraq • journalists • politics
December 30th, 2011
03:58 AM ET

The importance of the Strait of Hormuz

CNN's Tim Lister explains why the Strait of Hormuz is so strategically important and why tensions are rising there.

Filed under: backstory • Iran • Iraq • journalists • U.S.
December 20th, 2011
08:25 PM ET

Images of Iraq and the stories behind them

Nine years after it began, the war in Iraq has come to a close.  But the images from that conflict continue to tell a powerful and dramatic story of a country going through an enormous evolution.

Photographer Ben Lowy spent time working in Iraq during the war.  He's put some of his iconic images together in a pair of books titled "Iraq Perspectives."  Errol Barnett recently sat down to talk to Ben about his work and what it was like to be a witness to the conflict.

You can see more photographs by Ben Lowy on the CNN Photo Blog. For more on his career, check out his website:

Filed under: Interviews • Iraq • Iraq War • journalists • photography • Uncategorized
December 16th, 2011
11:12 PM ET

Home from the War Zone

At the height of the War in Iraq, there were 170,000 U.S. troops stationed in Iraq.  As of today, there are 6,000 American troops and four U.S. military bases still operating inside the country.  All of those bases are located south of Baghdad.  Soon, they will be dismantled and the troops will return home.  Kyra Phillips talked to some servicemen and women who's already returned to the United States.  They told her about their experiences in Iraq, for better and for worse.

Filed under: Interviews • Iraq • Iraq War
December 16th, 2011
03:41 PM ET

Reflections on the Iraq War

After nearly nine years in Iraq, the United States military is packing up its gear and bringing its troops home.  The U.S. says the war is over, and Iraq is now a stable, sovereign country.  If you ask Iraqis how they feel after almost nine years of occupation, the answer is not so cut and dry.

Arwa Damon and Michael Holmes have been covering the war since the beginning.  John Vause talked with them to help put it all in perspective.

For updates on these and other stories, "like" Back|Story on facebook and "follow" us on twitter

Check out this link to see some pictures from Michael Holmes after he recently visited a camp for displaced people in Taji, Iraq.

Filed under: Arab World • Arwa Damon • backstory • Interviews • Iraq • Iraq War • John Vause • journalists • Michael Holmes • U.S.
Iraq as the War Ends
December 15th, 2011
09:38 PM ET

Iraq as the War Ends

CNN's Michael Holmes gives us a look, through his camera lens, at some of what he has been working on while in Iraq. The U.S. says it will end the war in Iraq by the end of 2011.

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Filed under: backstory • Iraq • journalists • photography
December 2nd, 2011
07:03 PM ET

Reflections on Iraq

U.S. troops moved into Iraq more than eight years ago, with the goal of toppling Saddam Hussein.  And CNN has been there from the beginning.  Our own Michael Holmes has spent time in Iraq every year since 2003.  He recently sat down with producer Jessica Ellis to go through some of his photographs from his time in Iraq, and to reflect on some of his best - and worst - memories of that time.  And he also talked about how the U.S. invasion has changed, and will change, Iraq.

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Filed under: Iraq • photography
Remembering a Fallen Colleague
Journalist Sabah al-Bazee was one of 56 people killed when armed militants attacked an Iraqi government building in Tikrit on March 29, 2011.
March 29th, 2011
09:19 PM ET

Remembering a Fallen Colleague

Today, at least 56 people were killed and 98 others wounded, when a gang of men attacked an Iraqi government building in the northern city of Tikrit.  Among those killed in the attack was Sabah al-Bazee, a freelance journalist who worked for a number of news organizations, including CNN.

CNN Producers Mohammed Tawfeeq, Yousuf Basil and Jomana Karadsheh wrote this blog entry, remembering our fallen colleague:

When people ask us what it’s like being a journalist in Iraq, the answer would probably be much more upbeat on any other day.

Whenever bombs go off in Iraq, we get on the phone to sources to get casualty figures and details.    But when Mohammed confirmed the dozens killed and wounded in the horrific siege in Tikrit on Tuesday, he didn’t realize for an hour that one of those killed was someone he has known for years.

Today, we mourn a colleague and a friend— Sabah al-Bazee.

Sabah was one of the many brave Iraqi journalists whose courage and skills made him one of the best local reporters in the deadliest war for journalists since World War II.   Sabah has been a freelance contributor for CNN in the northern province of Salaheddin since 2006. One of his first assignments for us was covering the bombing of al-Askari Shrine in his hometown of Samarra that year; an attack that unleashed the country’s vicious sectarian war.

He reported for us from Tikrit and Samarra at the height of the brutal war, the days when al-Qaeda controlled many cities, including his own. But it was not only al-Qaeda that targeted journalists. Many other groups were also hunting down the media.

But Sabah survived those days, and so did his sense of humor.

Sabah would always want to joke and make us laugh. Even when you would wait for him to pick up the phone, you would get a recorded joke.

He was one of the most outgoing and proactive stringers we had.  Most of the time, Sabah would call and give us the news before we’d call him asking about it.

Sabah’s English was not great, but he tried.  Sometimes he would try holding a conversation with us in English and recently he started trying to write us a news report in English.

Jomana remembers a trip to a U.S. military base in Tikrit in 2008, where she met up with Sabah.

Because this was in his province, Sabah displayed the renowned Iraqi hospitality.
After lunch, he grabbed some fruit and put it in Jomana’s bag.  She did not find it until hours later, when she got back to Baghdad.

Like most Iraqis we know and we work with, Sabah has hesitated for years about leaving Iraq to escape the threats and the violence - because he loved his country.

But a few weeks ago, Sabah asked Mohammed for his help and finally applied for asylum in the U.S., saying:

“I don’t want to live in Iraq least not in the next five years... It is going to be very difficult.”

While Iraq today is not the Iraq of three or four years ago, it still is a place where hundreds are killed and wounded every month.

It is still a place where you can leave your home in the morning and never come back.  Just like Sabah did today.

Today, we mourn a colleague and a friend— yet another one.

Sabah al-Bazee turned 30 one week ago today.

Filed under: backstory • Iraq • journalists