By Daniel Santopietro
A key issue that really got my attention at the eTour was the way in which Iraq was developing as a nation ten years after the invasion. I found it fascinating to hear from everyone who spoke about the war, the turbulent times Iraq was going through, and fascinating to hear from people who fled Iraq. This was something that got me interested in reporting on the development challenges that Iraq still faces today. In doing further research for my piece I stumbled upon a speech given by United States President Barack Obama back in late 2011. This was a period of final withdrawal of troops in the country, and while he acknowledged that Iraq was not the perfect place, he went on to say “we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq.” From the topics that were being discussed on Saturday at the eTour, I knew like many others that this was simply not the case.
The message that I kept hearing throughout the day from the speakers was a country that was going through a really difficult period, and was struggling. While Iraq is mentioned on some news outlets, here and there, the international media disappeared after the final withdraw. I had read the likes of Janine Di Giovanni on the experiences she has had reporting on conflicts especially in Iraq, but as an independent journalist, Donna Mulhearn really opened my eyes up to the situation in Iraq. As a journalist myself, I find it courageous what Donna has done and achieved while in Iraq, in the face of violence she goes out there and reports on the challenges that are facing the country.
I now know more than what I had before about Iraq. I knew however deep down, that the country was still unsafe, but at the same time I had been hoping that the lack of media attention on the country had meant that the country had been steadily progressing politically, economically and socially. This is an area that through my radio report, I wanted people to hear and understand. The eTour has been, by no doubt a very good insight into the country, and as a journalist, I found it incredible that Iraq is not to be forgotten. All the speakers were excellent, and in my opinion they all see hope for the country, if not in the short term than in the long term. It is a very fascinating topic to discuss. Attending the eTour has made me realise that there is more for Iraq, there is more to discuss and report about, and I am to return to the topic of Iraq and report on its progress as a nation.