Thursday, August 14, 2003

Iraq:

  1. Colorful, if not always fully dressed, Iran-Contra operative (and U. S. Deputy Secretary of State) Richard Armitage, speaking to to the Asia Society in Sydney:

    "President Bush has made it crystal clear we do not intend to stay in Iraq longer than necessary. But let me also make this crystal-clear: we are not going to leave until we find and destroy Iraq's capability to produce biological, chemical and nuclear weapons."

    Since they'll never find these weapons, I guess they'll never leave.

  2. The British kept telling us how superior to the Americans they are, and how much easier their relations were with those Iraqis living in Basra. They also delighted in informing us of how well Basra was running, as opposed to the disastrous situation in Baghdad. The riots in Basra have proven that the British had no idea how their mismanagement of Basra had enraged the inhabitants. The same problem that plagues Baghdad, chronic shortages in electricity coupled with 50 degree heat, together with anger that Kuwaitis were smuggling oil out of southern Iraq while the residents of Basra faced shortages of fuel, seems to have precipitated the riots. Laith al-Tayi, a resident of Basra, said:

    "We are very happy that Saddam Hussein is gone. But sometimes we say at least Saddam Hussein is a Muslim, but the British are foreigners. We cannot accept them. They must know they cannot stay here for 40 years. If they try, we will kick them out. What would you do if you were in our shoes?"

    Sabri Zugheyer, a restaurant owner, said:

    "The British promised to make everything better, but now it's worse. Even in the old days it was never as bad as this. Their promises are worth nothing."

    Adnan Abud, a taxi driver, said:

    "The British and Americans come here and promise us everything, but things are worse now than under Saddam. You cannot know what it is like to live in this heat with no power and no fuel. It is intolerable."

    The British were able to greatly improve the electricity situation almost immediately, which leads me to wonder why it took a riot to make them do what they should have already been doing. A sentence from the Guardian is telling:

    "The weekend trouble has underlined the deep frustration of British military commanders at the failure of the international community to help restore Iraq's infrastructure."

    Woah! The international community is effectively blocked from helping due to the Bushite insistence that the U. N. is not to be involved. On top of that, many elements of the reconstruction, which could be done more quickly and cheaply by international aid organizations, have been allocated by Bush to American private companies so they can make a profit from it. If the British have a problem with the international community, perhaps they should have a talk with Bush.

  3. Because of refinery problems, U. N. officials have said there is a 'near certainty' that Iraq will face winter shortages of kerosene, the fuel that is used to heat homes in northern Iraq. There is a similar problem with another vital fuel, liquified natural gas. Smuggling, probably to Kuwait, has made the problem worse. John Levins, the head of fuel planning for the United Nations Joint Logistics Center, said:

    "There is no doubt the coalition has the best interests of the Iraqi people at heart, but if they cut off coalition imports of gasoline and don't alleviate the diesel situation before Iraqi refineries are able to provide for the needs of their own people, there will be a fuel-induced humanitarian crisis in the coming months."

    I guess we'll have to wait for the winter heating fuel riots.

  4. From Salam Pax, referring to a press conference given by the current president of the Iraqi Interim Governing Council:

    "As usual, getting into these press bashes is an event in itself. You have to be there an hour early, you get searched a thousand times and, of course, as an Iraqi I get treated like shit. I have no idea why the American soldiers at the entrance to the convention centre . . . are so offensive towards Iraqis while they can be so nice to anyone with a foreign passport. I have to be the Zen master when the soldier at the gate gets condescending. The reporters of Iraq Today were not allowed to get to the press conference and they went ballistic. 'This is my friggin' government, what do you mean I can't get in?' My sentiments exactly. Keep this image in your head: an American officer stopping you, an Iraqi, from attending the press conference your government is holding."

    and, from his blog:

    "G. my friend got beaten up by US Army last night, he was handcuffed and had a bag put on his head. he was kicked several times and was made to lie on his face for a while. All he wanted to do was to take pictures and report on an attack, he works for the New York Times as a translator and fixer. He got more kicks for speaking english. his sin: he looks Iraqi and has a beard. story will be told, I need to get him drunk enough to get the whole thing out of him he doesn't want to talk."


  5. For some no-doubt stupid reason, perhaps connected with a bet or something, the Americans decided to use a Black Hawk helicopter to hover and attempt to remove an Islamic banner from a telecommunications tower in the Baghdad slum now called Sadr City. Not surprisingly, this angered the residents of the area, and 3,000 people gathered to protest. Deciding not to leave well enough alone, the Americans apparently regarded this gathering as a challenge to show up and drive around the crowd in Humvees. Stones were thrown, which were met with return fire from the geniuses, killing one Iraqi civilian and wounding four others. The Americans claim a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at them, but this sounds like an excuse for the murders, and even if true, wouldn't have happened if the Americans hadn't gratuitously angered the people of the area and then provoked them by unnecessarily driving around. This is exactly the kind of completely moronic behavior that characterizes the whole occupation. The American authorities will then wonder out loud why it is that the liberating Americans, who are sacrificing themselves in the best interests of the Iraqi people, are so hated by the Iraqis. The ingrates! Almost all of this escalating violence, which is of course going to come back to haunt the Americans, could be avoided if the American troops were just a tiny bit smarter.


There is much, much more to write about, particularly the security, electricity, and POW situations, all of which appear to be getting worse.

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