Times’ Alissa Rubin Leaving Baghdad to cover Afghanistan; Steven Lee Myers Named Times Baghdad Bureau Chief

Alissa Rubin is leaving the Times‘ Baghdad bureau to cover Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Steven Lee Myers will replace her as Baghdad bureau chief, The Observer has learned.

Mr. Myers, a former Bush White House reporter who has been reporting from Iraq since February, will become the Times‘ fourth Baghdad bureau chief in just over two years (Jim Glanz left the bureau to work for the investigations unit; John Burns left to go to London). Rod Nordland, the former Baghdad bureau chief for Newsweek, and who has been contributing to the Times for the last few months, will be his no. 2.

Recently, the Times has been refocusing its attention to Kabul from Baghdad, and Ms. Rubin will begin covering the military’s presense in Pakistan and Afghanistan from Paris after she takes time off. She will also cover the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Back in April, foreign editor Susan Chira told us the Times would be bulking up its Pakistan coverage.

“This is obviously the war that the president is focusing on,” said Ms. Chira then. “And troops are being shifted to there so we intend to gear up. We’re not going to abandon the war in Iraq—there are a lot of troops there, and we’re going to cover it. Yes, we’re ramping up in Afghanistan and Pakistan and we’ve had a strong commitment there, which thankfully the Pulitzer judges recognized. But we won’t leave Baghdad.”

She also told us that many veterans of The Times’ Iraq coverage, including CJ Chivers, Sabrina Tavernise, Richard Oppel and Dexter Filkins, would be turning their attention to Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well.

This has been a continuing trend in media. Felix Gillette wrote in The Observer, “In recent months, as the focus of the U.S. military operations overseas has shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan, [NBC’s Richard] Engel and other seasoned foreign correspondents are increasingly following their military sources back to America’s other war.”