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bossel
05-11-04, 22:56
While the US is on the brink of making yet more friends in the Middle East, the BBC allows us a look inside the city of "assassins & thugs":

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3986085.stm


Quote:
" This used to be a city of 500,000 people.

Now, my guess is there are about 100,000 still here.

Some people who tried to leave earlier on found they had to come back because there was no way of surviving away from their homes.

Iraq is a difficult place to live at the moment. There are not many opportunities.

The hospitals I have seen are full of people but empty of supplies and medicine. The erratic electricity also makes operating difficult. "

Duo
06-11-04, 02:12
Just so sad :(


Funny, bush wants to stop terrorism, but is by actions such as this that he creates more ppl who will hate america.

Elizabeth
06-11-04, 02:57
Iraq is a difficult place to live at the moment. There are not many opportunities.

The hospitals I have seen are full of people but empty of supplies and medicine. The erratic electricity also makes operating difficult. "
Does it somehow not seem logical to ask whether it was easy to live under Saddam ? Under sanctions ? Was the situation with the hospitals any different then ? It's difficult to find many people that will defend the way Bush has handled the occupation, but I do appreciate historical context and balanced reporting. Some things in the country are obviously much improved and reconstruction work gets way too little notice, some places unfortunately have deteriorated badly. On the other hand, what is the alternative now that we're in this situation, besides working with the Iraqi security forces and president to hunt out the insurgents after negotiations have failed :?

bossel
06-11-04, 03:25
Does it somehow not seem logical to ask whether it was easy to live under Saddam ? Under sanctions ? Was the situation with the hospitals any different then ?
In Falluja? Definitely better back then (although Falluja was not really famous for its support of Saddam), they didn't have much but at least something.


On the other hand, what is the alternative now that we're in this situation, besides working with the Iraqi security forces and president to hunt out the insurgents after negotiations have failed :?
Well, it was quite an intelligent move to actually arrest the negotiator when things didn't go as the US wanted them to. :okashii:

The hard-handed US approach only created the current situation in Falluja, anyway.

BTW, the Iraqi government is just a US puppet, they don't really give any legitimacy to this action. It's just an invader trying to crush resistance (with the help of collaborators), simple as that.

Elizabeth
06-11-04, 04:05
In Falluja? Definitely better back then (although Falluja was not really famous for its support of Saddam), they didn't have much but at least something.


Well, it was quite an intelligent move to actually arrest the negotiator when things didn't go as the US wanted them to. :okashii:

The hard-handed US approach only created the current situation in Falluja, anyway.

BTW, the Iraqi government is just a US puppet, they don't really give any legitimacy to this action. It's just an invader trying to crush resistance (with the help of collaborators), simple as that.
Although puppet governments are nothing unusual with occupying powers. And things may not be much improved in Falluja, but in other areas quality of life has improved, the unemployment rate has dropped and sewage, water and electrical production are on the upswing which will eventually create stable, materially improved environments much less hospitable to terrorism. Not to mention the psychological freedom of not living in fear and submission under a dictatorship. :okashii:

bossel
06-11-04, 05:10
Although puppet governments are nothing unusual with occupying powers.
Which doesn't make it any better.


And things may not be much improved in Falluja, but in other areas quality of life has improved, the unemployment rate has dropped and sewage, water
But, AFAIK, in most parts of the country it's still below pre-war levels.


and electrical production are on the upswing which will eventually create stable, materially improved environments much less hospitable to terrorism.
True, in a way, only that there were virtually no terrorists (not active ones at least, only retirees) in Iraq before the war.


Annan, the voice of reason:
Kofi Annan's letter: Falluja warning (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3987641.stm)

mad pierrot
06-11-04, 08:37
by a friend in Iraq.


Being a foreign correspondent in Baghdad these days is like being under
virtual house arrest. Forget about the reasons that lured me to this job: a
chance to see the world, explore the exotic, meet new people in far away
lands, discover their ways and tell stories that could make a difference.
Little by little, day-by-day, being based in Iraq has defied all those
reasons. I am house bound. I leave when I have a very good reason to and a
scheduled interview. I avoid going to people's homes and never walk in the
streets. I can't go grocery shopping any more, can't eat in restaurants,
can't strike a conversation with strangers, can't look for stories, can't
drive in any thing but a full armored car, can't go to scenes of breaking
news stories, can't be stuck in traffic, can't speak English outside, can't
take a road trip, can't say I'm an American, can't linger at checkpoints,
can't be curious about what people are saying, doing, feeling. And can't and
can't. There has been one too many close calls, including a car bomb so near
our house that it blew out all the windows. So now my most pressing concern
every day is not to write a kick-ass story but to stay alive and make sure
our Iraqi employees stay alive. In Baghdad I am a security personnel first,
a reporter second.
It's hard to pinpoint when the 'turning point' exactly began. Was it April
when the Fallujah fell out of the grasp of the Americans? Was it when
Moqtada and Jish Mahdi declared war on the U.S. military? Was it when
Sadr City, home to ten percent of Iraq's population, became a nightly
battlefield for the Americans? Or was it when the insurgency began
spreading from isolated pockets in the Sunni triangle to include most of
Iraq? Despite President Bush's rosy assessments, Iraq remains a disaster. If
under Saddam it was a 'potential' threat, under the Americans it has been
transformed to 'imminent and active threat,' a
foreign policy failure bound to haunt the United States for decades to come.
Iraqis like to call this mess 'the situation.' When asked 'how are thing?'
they reply: 'the situation is very bad."
What they mean by situation is this: the Iraqi government doesn't control
most Iraqi cities, there are several car bombs going off each day around the
country killing and injuring scores of innocent people, the
country's roads are becoming impassable and littered by hundreds of
landmines and explosive devices aimed to kill American soldiers, there are
assassinations, kidnappings and beheadings. The situation, basically, means
a raging barbaric guerilla war. In four days, 110 people died and over 300
got injured in Baghdad alone. The numbers are so shocking that the ministry
of health -- which was attempting an exercise of public transparency by
releasing the numbers -- has now stopped disclosing them.
Insurgents now attack Americans 87 times a day.
A friend drove thru the Shiite slum of Sadr City yesterday. He said young
men were openly placing improvised explosive devices into the ground. They
melt a shallow hole into the asphalt, dig the explosive, cover it with dirt
and put an old tire or plastic can over it to signal to the locals this is
booby-trapped. He said on the main roads of Sadr City, there
were a dozen landmines per every ten yards. His car snaked and swirled to
avoid driving over them. Behind the walls sits an angry Iraqi ready to
detonate them as soon as an American convoy gets near. This is in Shiite
land, the population that was supposed to love America for liberating Iraq.
For journalists the significant turning point came with the wave of
abduction and kidnappings. Only two weeks ago we felt safe around Baghdad
because foreigners were being abducted on the roads and highways between
towns. Then came a frantic phone call from a journalist female friend at 11
p.m. telling me two Italian women had been abducted from their homes in
broad daylight. Then the two Americans, who got beheaded this week and the
Brit, were abducted from their homes in a residential neighborhood. They
were supplying the entire block with round the clock electricity from their
generator to win friends. The abductors grabbed one of them at 6 a.m. when
he came out to switch on the generator; his beheaded body was thrown back
near the neighborhoods./CONTINUED BELOW
WSJ reporter Fassahi's e-mail to friends /2
9/29/2004 2:47:12 PM
The insurgency, we are told, is rampant with no signs of calming down. If
any thing, it is growing stronger, organized and more sophisticated every
day. The various elements within it-baathists, criminals, nationalists and
Al Qaeda-are cooperating and coordinating.
I went to an emergency meeting for foreign correspondents with the military
and embassy to discuss the kidnappings. We were somberly told our fate would
largely depend on where we were in the kidnapping chain once it was
determined we were missing. Here is how it goes: criminal gangs grab you and
sell you up to Baathists in Fallujah, who will in turn sell you to Al Qaeda.
In turn, cash and weapons flow the other way from Al Qaeda to the Baathisst
to the criminals. My friend Georges, the French journalist snatched on the
road to Najaf, has been missing for a month with no word on release or
whether he is still alive.
America's last hope for a quick exit? The Iraqi police and National Guard
units we are spending billions of dollars to train. The cops are being
murdered by the dozens every day-over 700 to date -- and the insurgents are
infiltrating their ranks. The problem is so serious that the U.S. military
has allocated $6 million dollars to buy out 30,000 cops they just trained to
get rid of them quietly.
As for reconstruction: firstly it's so unsafe for foreigners to operate that
almost all projects have come to a halt. After two years, of the $18
billion Congress appropriated for Iraq reconstruction only about $1 billion
or so has been spent and a chuck has now been reallocated for improving
security, a sign of just how bad things are going here.
Oil dreams? Insurgents disrupt oil flow routinely as a result of sabotage
and oil prices have hit record high of $49 a barrel. Who did this war
exactly benefit? Was it worth it? Are we safer because Saddam is holed up
and Al Qaeda is running around in Iraq?
Iraqis say that thanks to America they got freedom in exchange for
insecurity. Guess what? They say they'd take security over freedom any day,
even if it means having a dictator ruler.
I heard an educated Iraqi say today that if Saddam Hussein were allowed to
run for elections he would get the majority of the vote. This is truly sad.
Then I went to see an Iraqi scholar this week to talk to him about
elections here. He has been trying to educate the public on the importance
of voting. He said, "President Bush wanted to turn Iraq into a democracy
that would be an example for the Middle East. Forget about democracy, forget
about being a model for the region, we have to salvage Iraq before all is
lost."
One could argue that Iraq is already lost beyond salvation. For those of us
on the ground it's hard to imagine what if any thing could salvage it from
its violent downward spiral. The genie of terrorism, chaos and mayhem has
been unleashed onto this country as a result of American mistakes and it
can't be put back into a bottle.
The Iraqi government is talking about having elections in three months
while half of the country remains a 'no go zone'-out of the hands of the
government and the Americans and out of reach of journalists. In the other
half, the disenchanted population is too terrified to show up at polling
stations. The Sunnis have already said they'd boycott elections, leaving the
stage open for polarized government of Kurds and Shiites that will not be
deemed as legitimate and will most certainly lead to civil war.
I asked a 28-year-old engineer if he and his family would participate in
the Iraqi elections since it was the first time Iraqis could to some degree
elect a leadership. His response summed it all: "Go and vote and risk being
blown into pieces or followed by the insurgents and murdered for cooperating
with the Americans? For what? To practice democracy? Are you joking?"

Sorry, I now it's long winded but it sums up my thoughts pretty well.

:sorry:

Elizabeth
06-11-04, 12:15
Are journalists now not being allowed to leave the country ? I know before the initial hostilities many news organizations ordered employees out for their own safety over the potential of blockbuster stories.

As for taking Arabs and Muslims generally taking responsibility for terrorism native to their entire region, one of the most repressive and backward in the world in almost every respect, pointing the blame outward is nothing new. Although I can better appreciate after reading accounts like these how American mistakes have helped further destabilize Iraq in particular.

bossel
06-11-04, 23:02
As for taking Arabs and Muslims generally taking responsibility for terrorism native to their entire region,
There was not much terrorism (beyond state terror) in Iraq before the US moved in.

Elizabeth
06-11-04, 23:53
There was not much terrorism (beyond state terror) in Iraq before the US moved in.
Yeah, it was just a perception that wherever the tentacles of Arab terrorism extend, to Africa, Chechnya or wherever, Arab public opinion reflexively finds some angle with which to implicate the West before taking responsiblity for groups that are fully homegrown, having been fostered and financed by violently repressive cultures. And now "American mistakes" are credited for "letting the genie" out in Iraq as well....as if with all the terrorism floating around the region this wouldn't have happened to some extent eventually anyway to an open democratic country. :?

bossel
07-11-04, 00:17
Yeah, it was just a perception that wherever the tentacles of Arab terrorism extend, to Africa, Chechnya or wherever, Arab public opinion reflexively finds some angle with which to implicate the West before taking responsiblity for groups that are fully homegrown, having been fostered and financed by violently repressive cultures. And now "American mistakes" are credited for "letting the genie" out in Iraq as well....as if with all the terrorism floating around the region this wouldn't have happened to some extent eventually anyway to an open democratic country. :?
As there is a multitude of terrorist organisations, there is a multitude of reasons for terrorism.

That there is so much terrorism in Iraq now is definitely due to US war & occupation. What's more, to many Muslims this war proves the anti-Islamic stance of the US, which in turn led to an increased willingness to join terrorist groups.

Chechnya? Most of the terror is coming from Russian troops, but I suppose that's not what you meant?

bossel
10-11-04, 04:44
More from the inside:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3996111.stm

"For the first time in Falluja, a city of 150 mosques, I did not hear a single call to prayer this morning.

I broke my Ramadan fast yesterday with the last of our food - two potatoes and two tomatoes.

The tomatoes were rotten because we have no electricity to run the fridge.

My neighbours - a woman and her children - came to see me yesterday. They asked me to tell the world what is happening here.

I look at the devastation around me and ask - why?"


Yeah, why! What's it good for? Does anyone actually believe that they will find Zarqawi there?

Also from BBC:
"But he [Lt Gen Metz] added that he assumed that many of the insurgent leaders, including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - the Jordanian militant blamed for car bombings, kidnappings and beheadings - had fled before the assault began."

architect
11-11-04, 05:28
Here we go again. Shake that big stick. The genie is out and everything we do now in the short term is only as a reaction. This Fallujah business (war) only plays into the hands of the terrorist and extremists. There now seems that the original number of insurgents is far less than anticipated. If the terrorist were there and have melted away, they remain one step ahead of us.

bossel
11-11-04, 07:05
Yep, the real terrorists are probably long gone (if they ever were there). Who stayed are probably mainly local resistant fighters. The apparent lack in organisation & the ease with which the US troops could move in hints at that.

Here is another analysis from the BBC:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3992315.stm

"A parallel is being drawn in some quarters with the British Army's Operation Motorman in 1972 in which "no-go areas" held by the Irish Republican Army were retaken. That, too, was declared as a decisive moment.

If it was, it took a long time to take effect. The IRA decided to melt away and fight another day. And the fight lasted another 30 years or so.

Another parallel more relevant perhaps for the US marines is the battle they fought to regain control of the South Vietnamese city of Hue after the Vietcong's Tet offensive in January 1968.

That battle was seen at the time as instrumental in bolstering the South Vietnamese government but in the long run the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese won anyway.

The marines are hoping that this time the final outcome will be different - that the insurgents will prove to have no real strength in depth, no easy source of supply and that they can be beaten. "

architect
11-11-04, 07:23
Yeah, I read that article too. I mean, its the M.O. for a guerilla war. Fight fast and fade away - they know that there is no way to fight toe to toe with the US armed forces. Besides, what did they expect when they annonuced for weeks that a strike was pending for Fallujah? I can see that they'll spin this into a great victory. Hearts and minds, that's the real war, the real challenge.

bossel
12-11-04, 00:02
Winning the hearts of people, yep, that's what the US is doing just now.
Here is some more from the inside of Falluja:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4003877.stm

"There are bodies strewn in the streets and most families were forced to bury the dead in their gardens. I can see lines of bodies alongside the pavement.
[...]
People are dying from their injuries because there is nowhere to go for treatment.
A clinic that was serving as the last hospital in the city was bombed two nights ago. "


BTW, just heard it on German news: in the past 2 days roughly 200 US soldiers have been flown out to Germany for medical treatment, which is said to happen only when rather heavily injured. Seems the US is paying quite a high price for pulling this stunt. There are probably (many?) more casualties than the 18 US soldiers we heard of in the news.

Not to mention all those civilian casualties who get buried in their backyard & are never counted by the US military (what? civilians? we don't shoot civilians, why should we count dead civilians then?).

senseiman
12-11-04, 05:14
Yeah, it was just a perception that wherever the tentacles of Arab terrorism extend, to Africa, Chechnya or wherever, Arab public opinion reflexively finds some angle with which to implicate the West before taking responsiblity for groups that are fully homegrown, having been fostered and financed by violently repressive cultures. And now "American mistakes" are credited for "letting the genie" out in Iraq as well....as if with all the terrorism floating around the region this wouldn't have happened to some extent eventually anyway to an open democratic country. :?

This isn't at all fair. Look at all the regions in the muslim world where the 'tentacles' of Arab terrorism extend and you'll see that there is a direct causal relationship between western expansion and Arab reaction. In the West Bank and Gaza strip you have the Israeli army using American weapons to pulverize Palestinian refugee camps. Ditto in southern Lebanon where Hezbollah grew up almost overnight as a direct result of the Israeli occupation. In Checnhya you had the entire city of Grozny reduced to rubble with thousands of civilians killed by the Russian military before the first Arab terrorists came within miles of the place. Its no secret that Bin Ladin's cause d'etre was the presence of US troops in his homeland of Saudi Arabia and now that their gone the new battlefield has become Iraq, where the US has decided to 'rebuild' a country in its own image using the only tools Bush knows how: death and destruction.

It seems incredibly naive to ascribe the cause of terrorism to the "violently repressive cultures" in which it grows. Unless by "violently repressive culture" you are referring to the significant segments of the Islamic world that now live under US, Israeli and Russian military occupation.

Its a fact of life that violence begets violence and that in times of war the most violent bigots usually benefit the most. Look at the West Bank. Ten years ago when the peace process was offering hope to the Palestinians the violent terrorist groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad were extremely unpopular and had peace been established they probably would have been either co-opted or destroyed. But as it is, thanks in large part to the heavy handed tactics of the Israeli military in supporting the settler's grabbing of Palestinian land, these terror groups have become immensely popular. That has nothing to do with any 'repressive' aspects of Palestinian culture, it is just human nature that when your city is attacked you get angry. Same in Iraq, where were the terrorists before the invasion? Sure, a few of the people fighting the Americans now are foreigners who would have been willing to kill Americans anyway (though they wouldn't have had the chance if the US hadn't given it to them by putting 150,000 troops in rifle range), but the vast majority are just regular Iraqis pissed off with having Americans running their country.

bossel
24-11-04, 21:10
Obviously there are similar crackpots in the US military as there are among the terrorists:

Col Brandl: (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/4037009.stm)
"'You've got to remember, gents, that this enemy does not like to show his face.
[...]
He's called Satan. He's in Falluja. And we're going to destroy him.'"


Seems as if there is an inherent flaw in the US military system, when I think of that "our god is greater than theirs" general.