Thursday, May 19, 2005

Yeah, But Has She Ever Been To Australia?

Twice in a matter of days, blogs I regularly read have linked to Iraqi blogger Riverbend, so I think it time that I pass on the recommendation (via Laura Rozen and Juan Cole). Riverbend offers an unvarnished, on the ground account of events in Iraq that should be invaluable to any outsider - and probably quite a few in closer proximity.

Er, but don't tell
Arthur Chrenkoff who would likely dismiss many of her posts as rank pessimism. Would she qualify as "mainstream media"? She may actually be in Iraq, but has she ever observed Iraq from the perspective of Australia like Chrenkoff? Until then, her vision is limited, and her ability to "Chrenk-off" remains woefully underdeveloped. So pardon her myopia.

Both Rozen and Cole link to Riverbend's
unsettling account of the uptick of violence in Iraq. This post paints a vivid picture, complete with sensory evocations that leave the reader with an unsettling nearness to the carnage.

The last two weeks have been violent. The number of explosions in Baghdad alone is frightening. There have also been several assassinations- bodies being found here and there. It's somewhat disturbing to know that corpses are turning up in the most unexpected places. Many people will tell you it's not wise to eat river fish anymore because they have been nourished on the human remains being dumped into the river. That thought alone has given me more than one sleepless night. It is almost as if Baghdad has turned into a giant graveyard.

The latest corpses were those of some Sunni and Shia clerics- several of them well-known. People are being patient and there is a general consensus that these killings are being done to provoke civil war. Also worrisome is the fact that we are hearing of people being rounded up by security forces (Iraqi) and then being found dead days later- apparently when the new Iraqi government recently decided to reinstate the death penalty, they had something else in mind.

But back to the explosions. One of the larger blasts was in an area called Ma'moun, which is a middle class area located in west Baghdad. It's a relatively calm residential area with shops that provide the basics and a bit more. It happened in the morning, as the shops were opening up for their daily business and it occurred right in front of a butchers shop. Immediately after, we heard that a man living in a house in front of the blast site was hauled off by the Americans because it was said that after the bomb went off, he sniped an Iraqi National Guardsman.

I didn't think much about the story- nothing about it stood out: an explosion and a sniper- hardly an anomaly. The interesting news started circulating a couple of days later. People from the area claim that the man was taken away not because he shot anyone, but because he knew too much about the bomb. Rumor has it that he saw an American patrol passing through the area and pausing at the bomb site minutes before the explosion. Soon after they drove away, the bomb went off and chaos ensued. He ran out of his house screaming to the neighbors and bystanders that the Americans had either planted the bomb or seen the bomb and done nothing about it. He was promptly taken away.

The bombs are mysterious. Some of them explode in the midst of National Guard and near American troops or Iraqi Police and others explode near mosques, churches, and shops or in the middle of sougs. One thing that surprises us about the news reports of these bombs is that they are inevitably linked to suicide bombers. The reality is that some of these bombs are not suicide bombs- they are car bombs that are either being remotely detonated or maybe time bombs. All we know is that the techniques differ and apparently so do the intentions. Some will tell you they are resistance. Some say Chalabi and his thugs are responsible for a number of them. Others blame Iran and the SCIRI militia Badir.

In any case, they are terrifying. If you're close enough, the first sound is a that of an earsplitting blast and the sounds that follow are of a rain of glass, shrapnel and other sharp things. Then the wails begin- the shrill mechanical wails of an occasional ambulance combined with the wail of car alarms from neighboring vehicles - and finally the wail of people trying to sort out their dead and dying from the debris....

While I'm linking to Laura Rozen, though on a different topic, don't miss this illuminating, if not enraging, exchange between the new, highly partisan chair of Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Ken Tomlinson, and NPR talk show host Dianne Rehme. Makes you understand why I thought this Digby post was so worthy.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?