Jamie Tarabay is NPR's Baghdad correspondent. She goes in for six to eight weeks at a time, comes out for a brief break before heading back in. She landed in Amman, Jordan, today, and sent me this note with her thoughts on the last few months in Iraq:
There has been some progress since I returned in March from a short break. Iraq has a prime minister who is on the verge of naming a cabinet, finally, more than five months after the national elections. Saddam Hussein's first trial is in a new and more decisive phase and prosecutors have announced the charges for his next trial. The U.S. military is handing over more areas of control to the Iraqi army and acknowledges that five months into the "Year of the Police," there's much, much more that needs to be done. Happy news that Jill Carroll was freed but devastating news that two Iraqi journalists kidnapped nearly the same time and under similar circumstances are still unaccounted for.
And the killings continue. The number of execution-style deaths is steadily increasing — earlier this week, Baghdad's morgue said it got 70 bodies in six hours, all killed in this way. Shiite and Sunni leaders continue to call for reconciliation even as people in the street blame militias from both sects for so much of the violence. Iran rocketed the Kurds, and Condoleezza Rice visited twice.
As I sat in the departure hall, an explosion loud enough to shake the light fixtures in the vast domes of the airport sent my colleagues in their hotel rooms miles away rushing to their windows to see the blast. But there was progress in something small too: There's now a PA announcing the impending flight departures and which gates to go to. The last time I flew out, that job belonged to airport workers who would walk through the hall calling out that information.