both sides feeling the pinch

We came as conquerors, and the conquered know it. Now they are asking questions, tomorrow they may want to do more.

Robert Fisk has been in Iraq, in Baghdad itself, since well before the war began, and what he sees is not the success being reported by the American media. He asks the righteous new overlords in Mesopotamia, if America was campaigning for human rights in Iraq, and if America insisted that the guilty, the war criminals, would be brought to trial, where are those rights being defended, and why haven't we apprehended the felons?

17 April 2003

It's going wrong, faster than anyone could have imagined. The army of "liberation" has already turned into the army of occupation. The Shias are threatening to fight the Americans, to create their own war of "liberation".

At night on every one of the Shia Muslim barricades in Sadr City, there are 14 men with automatic rifles. Even the US Marines in Baghdad are talking of the insults being flung at them. "Go away! Get out of my face!" an American soldier screamed at an Iraqi trying to push towards the wire surrounding an infantry unit in the capital yesterday. I watched the man's face suffuse with rage. "God is Great! God is Great!" the Iraqi retorted.

"Fuck you!"

The people of Baghdad have been ordered to stay in their homes from dusk to dawn.
Lockdown. It's a form of imprisonment. In their own country. Written by the command of the 1st US Marine Division, it's a curfew in all but name.

If I was an Iraqi and I read that," an Arab woman shouted at me, "I would become a suicide bomber." And all across Baghdad you hear the same thing, from Shia Muslim clerics to Sunni businessmen, that the Americans have come only for oil, and that soon – very soon – a guerrilla resistance must start. No doubt the Americans will claim that these attacks are "remnants" of Saddam's regime or "criminal elements". But that will not be the case.

But the main thrust of Fisk's argument is the observation that the coalition has done virtually nothing to apprehend the leaders of Sadaam Hussein's regime, or its agents of terror, and very little to protect the country's infrastrucure at any level, with the single, all-too-telling exception of the oil sector.
Why, Iraqis are asking, did the United States allow the entire Iraqi cabinet to escape? And they're right. Not just the Beast of Baghdad and his two sons, Qusay and Uday, but the Vice-President, Taha Yassin Ramadan, the Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, Saddam's personal adviser, Dr A K Hashimi, the ministers of defence, health, the economy, trade, even Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the Minister of Information . . . .

. . . .

So the people of Baghdad are asking who is behind the destruction of their cultural heritage: the looting of the archaeological treasures from the national museum; the burning of the entire Ottoman, Royal and State archives; the Koranic library; and the vast infrastructure of the nation we claim we are going to create for them.

Why, they ask, do they still have no electricity and no water? In whose interest is it for Iraq to be deconstructed, divided, burnt, de-historied, destroyed? Why are they issued with orders for a curfew by their so-called liberators?

The answer isn't in the text of his essay. Instead, Fisk ends with a warning which has other thoughtful authors these days.
So I'll make an awful prediction. That America's war of "liberation" is over. Iraq's war of liberation from the Americans is about to begin. In other words, the real and frightening story starts now.

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Published on April 19, 2003 12:55 AM.

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