Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Return of 'Iraq Dispatches'

Dahr Jamail's excellent blog, Iraq Dispatches, has been dormant since the beginning of April. But a new post appeared there Saturday, and there have been four more since. If you don't read Dahr Jamail then you should start right now! Bookmark this page and visit often.

Here, links to [and excerpts from] the five most recent posts on Iraq Dispatches:

May 14: Amman, Iraq, and Al-Qaim
It feels uncomfortable writing about Iraq from Amman…but my close friends, Abu Talat (my close friend and interpreter) and intuition have all provided the same message-do not go inside Iraq at this time.

So I’ve been in Amman now for about a week, and will resume posting stories from here soon. We’ve been working on a couple of stories about Iraqis in Amman…those should be out soon.

For now, I am using my Iraqi contacts in Baghdad (and other cities) as well as those who have joined me here, along with watching Al-Jazeera television, to pass on some news and photos about the situation.

Abu Talat phoned his family today in Baghdad. They’ve had no electricity for four days. They told him (unconfirmed) that all of Iraq has had no electricity for several days. As Abu Talat says, “Baghdad is running on the generator.”

Of course the gas crisis persists augmented by the lack of electricity, along with constantly increasing attacks.

We were in a taxi earlier, driving across the orderly streets of Amman and talking about the situation in Iraq. “Now I feel ashamed to tell people I am Iraqi,” says Abu Talat after he told the taxi driver he is from Baghdad, “Because my country has been totally destroyed.”


The situation around Al-Qaim where “Operation Matador” is ongoing, appears to be a micro-version of Fallujah. The military and corporate media continue to portray the situation as if “foreign fighters” have taken control of Qaim and surrounding villages (as was said about Fallujah) when reports from the ground state that interviews with the fighters have them all saying they are Iraqi.

Of course it behooves the military to claim they are battling “foreign fighters,” because as in Fallujah and elsewhere, it doesn’t look good in the press to admit that they are fighting Iraqis who are fighting for their independence from the occupiers of their country. Even the marines in Fallujah admitted they had killed a grand total of 35 foreign fighters there. That kind of debunks the myth of a foreign terrorist group taking over the city and terrorizing the citizens.

Another similarity between Qaim and Fallujah is that now there is a humanitarian crisis in Qaim from the fighting. There are 1,300 displaced families (approximately 12,000 people) from Qaim and the hospital there was destroyed amidst fighting on 8 May between resistance fighters and locals. On the 9th there was no electricity or water in Qaim and the surrounding areas and schools were closed. On the 11th US warplanes continued to bomb Obeidy and other nearby locations.
May 15: A “Welcome Parade” of Blood and Seething Anger
“With my own eyes I’ve seen the Americans, when their patrol was hit by a roadside bomb open fire on all the civilian cars around them,” exclaims Mohammed.

At this everyone begins talking at once, the anger raising their voices.

Over the din Rathman, a driver from Fallujah demands, “If Bush is a real man, he should walk down the street alone!”

“Insh’Allah [God willing] Iraq will be the graveyard of the Americans,” adds Ahmed, “Qaim is three small villages and with all their planes and tanks they still fail to control it. If they were brave they should attack one or two villages without planes and helicopters and tanks and fight man to man!”

A Shia driver from Hilla, a small city south of Baghdad, sternly says that the US is “the mother company of terrorism.”
May 18: "Democracy" in Iraq
I neither read nor listen to corporate media drivel concerning Iraq...but today I wonder what they could possibly be saying to justify the failed occupation of Iraq on this horrible day. I also wonder how people in America have yet to take the appropriate action necessary in order to force their government to impeach Bush and bring him and his regime to justice for the countless war crimes they have committed in Iraq.

Yesterday Hassan Nuaimi, high ranking member of the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) was found dead in Baghdad. One of his arms was broken and a hole was drilled into the side of his head.

This coming the day after the AMS had accused the Shia led governmnet of state sponsored terrorism by using the Badr Brigades to murder Sunnis.

In response to the murdering of Nuaimi, two Shia clerics were gunned down in Baghdad yesterday.

Harith al-Dhari, head of the AMS, blamed the Shia Badr Brigades for the recent spate of killings of Sunni clerics in the country.

Dhari, making a statement that could be interpreted as an announcement of civil war, said Sunnis would not keep silent over the killings.

"We are heading towards a catastrophe, only God knows when it will end, this is a warning from us," he said angrily.
May 19: “Many people were working with the Americans, so I felt it would be ok.”
Her name is Ahlam Abt Al-Hassan. Yesterday was the one year anniversary of when she was shot twice in the head by member of the Mehdi army while waiting for a taxi to go to her job with Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) in Diwaniyah.

After nearly three months of work searching women as they entered one of the US bases in Diwaniyah, she was paid a total of $475 from KBR. In return she has lost her eyesight, had to move from Iraq and can’t return because of threats from the Mehdi Army. Her ex-employers will not return any of her calls or requests for assistance.
May 20: Tomgram: Dahr Jamail on Living in Two Worlds
... email from a friend in Baghdad who's just spoken with a friend of his, a teacher in Fallujah. She crossed another kind of "border" there, also guarded by Americans -- a border around her own city. She had to undergo a retinal scan mandated by the Americans and had all ten fingers printed in order to obtain the necessary identification badge which, unfortunately, she then lost while shopping in a Baghdad market. When she tried to return to Fallujah without it, Iraqi National Guard soldiers wouldn't let her back in.

"She told them she'd lost her ID in Baghdad at the market, that she wants to go home, that they have to let her in, but they refused," my friend wrote. "A neighbor of hers inside Fallujah was there and told them she was his neighbor, but they refused. She called her husband with her neighbors' mobile and he came to the checkpoint with her papers, showing that she is his wife and he lives in Fallujah but they still refused to let her in."

She was crying, my colleague said, as she related her woes to him. She had lost 9 relatives during the American assault on the city in November, 2004. Then he wrote: "I want you to tell your friends and your audience about this. Please ask them what would happen if they were prevented from getting inside their city although the people inside knew they were a teacher who had to get to their school?"

My friend also wanted me to ask what Americans would do if our country were invaded and the only ID that was worth anything was that given by the invading forces -- even though you had several of your regular forms of identification with you?

Being a Raving Lunatic and Other Confusions of War

Of course, most Americans back in this strange land know nothing about such doings in Iraq, thanks to the ongoing efforts of the Bush administration and its faithful loudspeaker, the corporate media, which has done such a fantastic job of whitewashing the degrading situation in Iraq: Fallujah begins to resemble a concentration camp; the death toll of innocent Iraqis continues to escalate; the Iraqi resistance and foreign terrorist groups are now focusing heavily on the new Iraqi government and the new Iraqi security forces; the American troops continue their aggressive operations -- and all that comes through here in this still peaceful-seeming land are flickering images of car-bomb carnage.

In 1968, in the Vietnamese village of My Lai, American troops massacred over 400 innocent civilians by far the majority of whom were women, children, and the elderly. In Fallujah during the November siege of the city, according to Iraqi medical personnel, well over 1,000 innocent civilians (the majority of whom were women, children and the elderly) were slaughtered. Over one thousand innocent civilians, people who, under the Geneva Conventions, an occupying power is required by law to protect, died in what was essentially a Vietnam-style "free-fire zone."
Please read Dahr Jamail. Please pay close attention to Iraq Dispatches.