Tuesday, August 24, 2004

How Much Longer, Muqtada?

Zeyad captures the essence of the Najaf standoff in ONE SENTENCE.

This country is in deep shit if somebody doesn't put an end to this farce.

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An officer on the ground in Najaf reports:

"Two nights ago on a patrol from midnight to 3 A.M., we actually saw Iraqis sitting out on rugs watching and listening to the Coalition aircraft doing their work in the cemetery," 1st Lt. Jeremy T. Sellars — a platoon commander with Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment — told National Review Online on Saturday. "Despite the obvious level of destruction they were inflicting, I watched Iraqis cheer every time the aircraft fired."

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Salam Pax gives us his assessment after spending time with the Mehdi militia.

What I have been trying to do is to take a closer look at the people who support him and are prepared to fight for him, the Mahdi Army. Many of whom come from the disadvantaged and poor Shia areas in Iraq. You won’t find any Moqtada supporters in Najaf or Karbala, where the Shia “aristocracy” are. But in the poor southern cities like Amara and Nasiriyah and the huge slum in Baghdad known now as Sadr city. In Najaf and in Sadr City meeting the men who form the Mahdi Army has made me reconsider my view of them, they are simple people, always very friendly and welcoming. It is their leaders who worry me.

Those people never had hope for a better future, now they see someone who has lived among them championing their cause. They see a hand extended which they have not seen by the Iraqi government. What I fear they don’t see is how Moqtada al-Sadr and the people he listens to are using those masses in a dangerous political game which might disrupt the future for all Iraqis.


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UPDATE: Faiza Jarrar has announced that her youngest son Majid, who recently won a scholarship for overseas education, will soon fly to Canada for college. Let's all wish Majid Jarrar a safe journey and academic success! It is both exciting and difficult living in a new country for the first time. He will miss his family and country and I hope some of our Canadian readers will watch over Majid for us.

Good luck, Majid!

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CB is sitting up in a guard tower when suddenly a bunch of Iraqis in Mosul start shooting AKs up into the sky over the city.

Bang, bang, bang, bang. So I started counting all the shots I heard fired: one, two, three, four, five, six... finally after a couple minutes the shooting silently dissipated. I was unable to count every single gunshot I heard fired, some overlapped each other, but the final tally that I came up with was 67 shots heard fired. I remember awhile ago I was up in a guard tower when it was some Islamic holiday here, like Mohammed's birthday or some shit like that, and there wasn't nearly as many celabratory gunshots fired up in the air that night as there was tonight. So I wondered to myself what the fuck was going on tonight to have all these shots fired all at once? Then, down by the bottom of my tower, a vehicle rolled up and the TC stuck his head out of hatch and yelled up to me, "Hey, I just heard over the radio that Iraq is up! One to nothing!"

Holy shit, that's right. The Olympic soccer games are going on, and these people here are just as fanatical, if not more so, for their soccer team, than they are for their religion.

Strange, very strange.




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