Reporters on the Job

After a Decade: Reporter Fred Weir was in Tbilisi, Georgia (this page), almost exactly 12 years ago, as Georgia was heading into the bloody civil war that brought President Shevardnadze to power a few months later.

"Tbilisi was full of heavily armed men, with different groups occupying different parts of the city. Just passing from one city block to another was like going through a war zone," Fred recalls. "The night was full of gunfire and explosions."

Today marks a similar moment, he says, in that the normal legal order has been disrupted and power is messily changing hands. But the atmosphere in Tbilisi is totally different. "There are no guns in sight, no tension on the streets. Everyone's smiling, and the cafes on Rustaveli Prospekt - the main drag - are full of New Year's revelers."

Fred says it's hard to believe there was a revolution here so recently. "It's this downright normal atmosphere more than anything that makes me hope Georgia has finally left its violent and chaotic post-Soviet ordeal behind."

After a Month: Dan Murphy recently returned to Baghdad after a little more than a month away (page 1). The changes he sees over that short time, he says, underscore how difficult it is to map any sort of trajectory for Iraq's political transition.

He missed the capture of Saddam Hussein (but Dan insists he's not bitter). Attacks on US and other coalition forces dropped sharply over the period. The hotel he left that was filled with journalists is now half-empty; some reporters have left, while others have moved into houses for fear of car-bomb attacks on places frequented by Westerners.

The biggest visible change, Dan says, are the gasoline lines, which now snake through the city for up to a mile and have added to the horrific traffic created by coalition roadblocks.

"We tried to go to coalition headquarters for a meeting a few days ago, and we expected it would take 20 minutes. It took an hour and a half."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy World editor

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