COMMENTS: Petraeus Preparations

All three networks previewed the Capitol Hill testimony on Iraq by Gen David Petraeus and Amb Ryan Crocker. NBC had Jim Miklaszewski file from the Pentagon where he concentrated on troop levels: "Petraeus wants to keep some 140,000 American forces in Iraq at least through the Presidential election in November." In Baghdad's Green Zone, ABC's Miguel Marquez (embargoed link) looked at the "huge spike" in mortar and rocket attacks in the last month: "Many wonder if the increased attacks have been timed to coincide" with the Petraeus testimony.

On CBS, Lara Logan looked at Iraqi politics in the wake of the failure of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to pacify Basra. Now al-Maliki has threatened to disqualify the political opposition led by Muqtada al-Sadr from upcoming provincial elections. "On the streets of Sadr City," al-Sadr's power base, "the prime minister has never been more unpopular." Logan showed posters in Arabic with the slogan al-Maliki! Your Punishment will be in Hell. "He is widely seen as the loser in the fight against al-Sadr's followers."

Rounding out the day's Iraq coverage, Richard Engel returned to the Alwiya Orphanage in Baghdad for NBC's In Depth. He updated us on the Hussein sisters--Marwa, Aliya and Sora--he first profiled two years ago after their parents were murdered in front of their eyes. Aliya and Sora are still there; Marwa, now 15 years old, has had to move on: "Since she left, men have been trying to marry her. Marwa had three proposals in the last month and turned them down. 'I do not want to marry; school is more important,' she said. Marwa still wants to be an engineer like her father. Now she wears a veil and is guarded."


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