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NPR’s Iraq correspondent Deborah Amos talks about suddenly ‘forgotten war’

With a renewed U.S.

With a renewed U.S. military interest in Afghanistan and the planned cutback of troops in Iraq, most Americans no longer want to hear news about the war in Iraq, National Public Radio correspondent Deborah Amos said today in Minneapolis.

She was in town for an MPR broadcast journalism series event Wednesday night and spoke at a breakfast gathering this morning.

With few journalists left covering Iraq, she fears it’s becoming a forgotten war. Yet the international implications of Iraq’s reconstruction remain crucial.

She said results of the country’s election should be clearer Friday, and that will give some indications in the direction the Sunni and Shiite factions will take the country. The sectarian divide remains a major problem in governing the country, she said. And many of the small number of Christians in the country have left, fearing religious violence.

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Amos has worked for ABC and PBS news divisions in the past and has written several books on Mideast politics.

She also said:

Oprah and Dr. Phil are the top television programs in Iraq, and many residents say they understand America and could easily live here “because I watch Dr. Phil,” she said, using a Middle East accent. She thinks the interest comes because Iraqis have been a collective society, where family issues are decided according to religion and culture, but they’re transitioning (or are being transitioned) to a democracy, where those decisions — marriage, divorce, work issues — are made by individuals.

Asked whether Iraq is better off now than before the U.S. invasion, Amos said many Iraqis think so. They’re glad Saddam Hussein is gone, although they’re ashamed they couldn’t do it. But many miss the stability in the country that the dictatorship provided.

Amos is finishing a fellowship and expects to soon be back in the field. Her next assignment?

Turkey, she hopes. She said it’s a balance to Iran in the Middle East and a swing power in the region in Israeli-Syrian talks, and is involved with Pakistan and the Taliban. And most Westerners “don’t know much about Turkey,” she said.

“Now I have to convince my foreign editor to send me there,” she said.