Sunday, April 27, 2003

Eventually, either all the Americans in Iraq will be dead or gone, or all the Iraqis will be dead, but until then:

  1. In Baghdad:

    • As many as 40 Iraqi civilians were killed in a series of explosions on April 26 at an arms dump. The Americans were in the process of destroying Iraqi munitions by using 'controlled' detonations (they deny this, saying they were just guarding the munitions, but the neighbors are all certain that the Americans were destroying munitions every day), but yet somehow manage to blame the fatal explosions on unidentified attackers who fired flares into the arms dump. As one neighbor asked: "Why are the Americans blowing up weapons near us?" I suppose the short answer is that they don't regard you as human beings. Another person asked:

      "Why do they blow up things like this so close to where we live? We are Iraqis. But does that mean that we are not human as well?"

      The irony is that the Americans throw the blame back on Saddam, with Central Command in Qatar saying: "The location of the ammunition cache near a civilian population is another example of the former regime's disregard for the safety of Iraqi citizens." I'm afraid they can't have it both ways - if it is Saddam's disregard for the safety of Iraqis to put the arms there, it is also the American disregard for the safety of the Iraqis to try to destroy them in the same place.

    • As of a few days ago, the Americans announced they had restored power to 60 per cent of Baghdad, with 60-65 per cent receiving water.

    • American Pasha Jay Garner has chosen for his oriental dream-palace and headquarters for the Bush Crusade one of Saddam's old palaces. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    • The U. S. paratrooper who was handed a cluster bomb by an Iraqi girl has died. Notice how the story is a mass of confusion, with the American official response from Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, beginning with the assertion that the girl was trying to hurt the American soldiers, but then changing to the idea that she was just trying to return their munitions. Then, afraid of the unexploded cluster bomb problem, they try to say that the munitions aren't necessarily 'coalition' munitions. Then we move into the completely predictable (and quite possibly true) drop-on-the-grenade-to-heroically-save-the-whole-platoon story. Who knows what happened? All we can be certain of is that unexploded American cluster bombs are in the hands of Iraqi children, and American generals always lie.

    • Two members of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress and one member of his militia, the Free Iraqi Forces, were shot dead by U. S. Marines trying to protect a bank in Baghdad. Chalabi is the man the Pentagon wants to run Iraq. This shooting is being described as a 'misunderstanding'. What I don't understand is what these men were doing in a car where armed men were trying to break into a bank using rocket-propelled grenades and welding equipment. Chalabi isn't too popular with the Iraqis. If you are in a dead pool, I would advise picking him!

  2. In Basra, the water system is still a mess (electricity at 45% of capacity and water at 60-70%) and the city is facing a potential cholera outbreak. The hospitals are suffering from a critical shortage of key drugs (question: couldn't the British fix this long-ongoing problem overnight by flying in a plane full of drugs?).

  3. The Kurdish or formerly Kurdish areas of Iraq are going to be a big problem, even if the Turks stay out. Saddam engaged in that most vile of practices of trying to change the politics of an area by settling it with his own people (for other examples of this that haven't turned out well, see the Baltic states, Ireland, Tibet, and the Occupied Territories). He therefore forcibly removed Kurds from their homes, largely in and around Kirkuk, and resettled them with Arabs. The Kurds, back in control, are violently and suddenly trying to reverse this process, with the predictable tragic results. The Kurds have a legitimate case, but the issue has to be decided in some sort of administrative way, with the people who have to move because it has been determined that they have deprived others of their property receiving some sort of compensation. Violent dispossession is going to cause some sort of civil war. The Arab-Kurd-Turkoman nature of Kirkuk has to be worked out.

  4. In Mosul, the archeological museum was looted, with the looters, like those in Baghdad, choosing the valuable pieces and leaving the less valuable behind. The man that the Americans were trying to protect in Mosul, leading to the massacre which claimed at least 17 lives (the Americans, needless to say, initially denied firing on the crowd, but later owned up with one of their patented stories of self-defense; the next day they killed four more), is Misha'an Juburi. He has apparently taken charge of the city with the blessings of the Americans, although he is an unpopular - hence the riot which led to the shooting - local thug. Mosul has turned into perhaps the most dangerous and violent place in Iraq.

  5. In Mosul and Najaf, Iraqi children have taken up the charming pastime of Palestinian children by beginning to throw rocks at American soldiers. Soon, those soldiers will start to kill children when they fire back, and the Israelification of the United States will continue apace.