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Part 9: A Blunt Instrument

BBC Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen recalls his tricky dealings with the Iraqi Ministry of Information as he covered the impact of western sanctions against Saddam Hussein.

BBC Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen recalls his tricky dealings with the Iraqi Ministry of Information as he covered the impact of Western sanctions against Saddam Hussein. "The regime didn't mind us reporting about sanctions," he says. "It was real news, and it made their enemies look bad. It was much harder to report the brutality of the regime."

Bowen started reporting on the region in the lead up to the Gulf War back in 1990. Since then, he has witnessed endless wars between individuals, religious groups and full-sized states, jostling for military, political and economic power. He has interviewed dictators, fanatics and fundamentalists as well as the ordinary people caught up in their dangerous games. In that time, the past has always been present, providing motivation and political ammunition. Bowen has made headlines himself and he has paid a personal price, coming under fire and losing a colleague in the course of reporting - on the worst day, he says, in his life.

Produced by Mark Savage and Cara Swift.

15 minutes

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