Iraq may have emerged from its long self-imposed isolation in the politics of the Arab world, but it has a long way to go in dealing with foreign press, if the Baghdad summit conference is any example.
A Middle Eastern variant of Prussian super-orginization - perhaps influenced by Iraq's East German police advisers - rigidly dictates what hundreds of journalists can - or rather cannot - cover.
Basically, any meaningful access to the conference site at the presidential palace - or to its major actors - is forbidden. So, too, are normally acceptable practices like photographing or filming even such innocent happenings as the arrival of heads of state at Baghdad airport.
Illustrative of the heavy Iraqi security was the oddysey of two Arab journalists whose taxi strayed on the way to the press center. They were detained for an hour not because they were in a sensitive military zone, but because they unknowingly had approached the secret location of villas housing summit delegates.
Still very much honored is the time-tested tradition of dealing with hundreds of foreign journalists as if they were the tame local variety.
Just being here should suffice, the official message seems to be, especially since the government provides - indeed enforces - free housing and free telecommunications for the visitors.
In many cases, foreign journalists had their airline tickets paid by the Iraqi authorities as well.
Perhaps as an object lesson, the Iraqi authorities are believed to have vetoed only one journalist's visa request - that of Briton David Hirst, the outspoken veteran Middle East correspondent of The Guardian.
Journalists housed in a hotel school in the middle of the desert have been churlish enough to complain about the lack of laundry service or the fact that few taxi drivers seem to know where the place is.
After all, they are provided with French wine at meals and, on one evening, with Iraqi belly dancers and with British strippers who peeled to the buff.
So far the only press victories have been achieved by Americans.
American television reporters refused to comply with demands that their super senstitive electronic video-tape cameras be turned in for security checks. Hours before the opening session of the heads of state meeting Thursday might security officials finally backed down.
European television crews using conventional cameras cringed as security men piled their equipment into the back of a pickup truck like so many potato sacks.
Among other local oddities were confiscation of arriving journalists' airline tickets at Baghdad airport. Some, but not all, were returned. Accreditation was issued on the back of cafeteria stubs after the disappearance of security men in charge of the Polaroid cameras used to make badges with photographs.
However, veteran correspondents were pleased to note that the airport officials no longer confiscate typewriters for the duration of their stays, although the make and number of the machines are still duly noted in passports.
Still, the press is better off than a number of villa owners in the Mansour residential area. Last week they and their furniture were summarily moved out of their homes, which were commandeered for the distinguished summit guests.