Friday, December 29, 2006

Iraq today... living the hell of American Empire

David Seaton's News Links
While perusing my daily ration of Juan Cole, I happened on this extraordinary report on the state of Baghdad by probably the best American reporter to ever have worked there, Hannah Allam of the McClatchy (formerly Knight-Ridder) newspapers. A voyage to hell. One of the most nauseating trends in today's punditocracy is to blame the Iraqis themselves for their suffering. This indescribable hell is the result of criminal decisions taken of their own free will by people with names well known to all. They bask in smug immunity today. The most that can happen to them is that they lose their present jobs and join the lecture circuit, the defense industry or some think tank. What is going to be needed, perhaps for decades to come, is some new Simon Wiesenthal to hunt these criminals down and bring them to trial to answer for their crimes, no matter how long it takes. DS
Hannah Allam returns to Baghdad - McClatchy Newspapers
Abstract: (Hannah Allam covers the Middle East and Islamic world as bureau chief in Cairo, Egypt. She recently returned to Baghdad on assignment, where she previously spent more than two years reporting on the war in Iraq as Baghdad bureau chief. ) A certain color of stone worn a certain way is just one of the dozens of superficial clues - like dialect, style of beard, how you pin a veil - that indicate whether you're Sunni or Shiite. These little signs increasingly mean the difference between life and death at the terrifying illegal checkpoints that surround the districts of Baghdad.(...) nowadays it seems like everything in Baghdad hinges on separation. There's the Green Zone to guard the unpopular government from its suffering people, U.S. military bases where Iraqis aren't allowed to work, armored sedans to shield VIPs from the explosions that kill workaday civilians, different TV channels and newspapers for each political party, an unwritten citywide dress code to keep women from the eyes of men. Attempts to bring people together have failed miserably. I attended a symposium called "How to Solve Iraq's Militia Problem," but the main militia representatives never showed up and those of us who did were stuck inside for hours while a robot disabled a car bomb in the parking lot.(...) I asked my colleagues to arrange meetings with old Iraqi sources - politicians, professors, activists and clerics - only to be told they'd been assassinated, abducted or exiled.(...) So many blindfolded, tortured corpses turn up that an Iraqi co-worker recently told me it was "a slow day" when 17 bodies were found. Typically, the figure is 40 or more. When the overflowing morgue at Yarmouk Hospital was bombed last month, one of our drivers wearily muttered, "How many times can they kill us?" Even the toughest of my Iraqi colleagues hit their breaking points after experiencing the indignity of being forced from their homes, the trauma of a bomb outside a doorstep, the grief for a cousin killed by a mortar, the shame of staying silent while a neighbor's house was torched. (...) For them, there is no ivory-tower debate over whether they're living in a civil war.(...) Electricity is on for just a couple of hours a day in most districts. Gas lines stretch for block after block. Food prices are higher than ever, especially for fresh produce, which requires rural farmers to make the treacherous drive to Baghdad markets. The water is contaminated. Gunmen in police uniforms stage brazen mass abductions, evaporating faith in the Iraqi security forces. READ IT ALL

1 comment:

janinsanfran said...

Very much agreed -- Hannah Allam is doing us all the best service she can.