"Finally we have good news in Iraq," he said.
"What is it?," I asked.
"Angelina Jolie is here," he answered.
Well she's back. The Hollywood bombshell returned to Baghdad to "bring awareness" to the refugee and internally displaced people crisis in Iraq.
The U.N. Goodwill Ambassador dropped into Iraq for the second time to meet with U.S. and Iraqi officials including the Prime Minister of Iraq and General David Petraeus. I assume it's a lot easier to get those appointments when you starred in Lara Croft Tomb Raider.
Maybe a little star power will make everything right, I don't know.
There are over two million people in Iraq displaced from their homes. Another two million are outside of Iraq. While some have returned it is a trickle and not a flood. Among those who have returned some only returned to be forced out again by new groups that control neighborhoods.
There is no real plan to resettle these people if and when they return. Squatters have taken over many displaced families' homes. In many cases militias are now deciding who can and who can't return to neighborhoods including the praised awakening councils, who are largely credited with helping reduce violence in parts of Iraq. The councils or Concerned Local Citizens are U.S. contracted mostly Sunni groups paid to protect their neighborhoods. Many of the members are former insurgents.
Here's what Jolie told CNN about the situation:
"There's lots of goodwill and lots of discussion, but there seems to be just a lot of talk at the moment," Jolie said. "What happens in Iraq and how Iraq settles in the years to come is going to effect the entire Middle East, and a big part of what it's going to effect, how it settles, is how these people are returned and settled into their homes and their community and brought back together and whether they can live together and what their communities look like."
Well there you go Angelina Jolie said it. Iraq is very important to the future of the Middle East, people need to stop talking and start fixing. Here's a link to the CNN transcript of the Jolie interview in Baghdad.