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[casi-analysis] From Riverbend/ Last Few Days...

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Saturday, May 15, 2004

Last Few Days...

That video of Nick Berg is beyond horrible. I haven't been able to watch it whole. It makes me sick 
to my stomach and I can hardly believe it happened. His family must be devastated and I can't even 
imagine what they must have felt. With all of this going on- first Abu Ghraib and now this, I 
haven't felt like writing anything.

Ansar Al Islam are a fundamentalist militant group- mostly Kurdish- based in the north of Iraq. 
They made a name for themselves recently and chose the Kurdish autonomous region as 'home' with the 
full knowledge of the CIA, who had more control over the region than the former regime. Since the 
beginning of the war, they have been responsible for various explosions and attacks- or so they 
say. The beheading has nothing to do with Islam. I'm still hoping- albeit irrationally- that the 
whole thing was some sort of grotesque setup.

I was sick to my stomach when I first saw the video on some news channel and stood petrified, 
watching the screen and praying that they wouldn't show it whole because for some reason, I 
couldn't take my eyes off of it. I feel horrible. Was I shocked? Was I surprised? Hardly. We've 
been expecting this since the first pictures of the torture of Iraqi prisoners broke out. There's a 
certain rage in many people that is frightening. There's a certain hunger and need for revenge that 
lame apologies from Bush and surprise visits from Rumsfeld won't appease.

I think beheading was the chosen method of 'execution' because the group wanted to shock Americans 
and westerners in the worst possible way. The torturers at Abu Ghraib and other prisons chose 
sexual degradation because they knew that nothing would hurt and appall Iraqis and Muslims more 
than those horrible, sadistic acts. To Iraqis, death is infinitely better than being raped or 
sexually abused. There are things worse than death itself and those pictures portrayed them.

Foreigners in Iraq are being very, very careful and with good reason. Many of the companies have 
pulled out their staff and are asking the remaining workers and contractors to be extra careful and 
as inconspicuous as possible.

The assumption that Al Zarqawi himself was doing the beheading seems a little far-fetched. So now 
the heads of terrorism in the world seem to be Ossama Bin Ladin, Aimen Al Dhawahiri and Abu 
Mussa'ab Al Zarqawi. Here's some food for thought- Ossama is from Saudi Arabia, Al Dhawahiri is 
Egyptian and Al Zarqawi is Jordanian. Which countries in the region are America's best allies? 
Let's see now… did you guess Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt?! Fantastic! You win a trip to… 
Falloojeh!! (And no- it doesn't count if you give Saudi Arabia a little slap on the wrists and poke 
Egypt in the ribs- you're still buddies).

They let out around 300+ prisoners today while that sadistic fiend Rumsfeld was in town. 
Apparently, setting 300 prisoners free of the thousands currently detained is supposed to mollify 
Iraqis- quite like Bush's lame half-apology to King Abdallah of Jordan. What is King Abdallah to 
us? What does it matter if Bush gets down and begs him for forgiveness? What in God's name does he 
represent to the Iraqi people?

Karbala and Najaf in the south are war zones. There are Shi'a fighters in the streets and American 
tanks and helicopters are bombing certain areas. Today they bombed the oldest cemetery in Najaf 
(and one of the holiest in Iraq). It has caused quite an uproar and Al Sadr is currently calling 
for people to join him in the south. We are seeing another inflow of refugees into Baghdad… this 
time from the southern region. They are using the same tactics they used in Falloojeh on the 
'insurgency'. So why was it an intifadhah, or popular uprising, in 1991 and now suddenly it's an 
insurgency? The people fighting in the streets of Najaf and Karbala aren't trained warriors or 
former regime members… they are simply people who are tired of empty promises and hollow assurances.

There are rumors that Badir's Brigade have been fighting alongside the Americans against Sadr's 
group and that doesn't bode well for SCIRI. The Puppets and spokespeople for the group have issued 
disclaimers but people sense that the Hakeems and Al-Da'awa leaders are eager to see Muqtada et al. 
crushed as soon as possible.

The end-of-the-year examinations have started in most of the schools. The school administrations 
are trying to get them over with as soon as humanly possible. It's already unbearably hot and dusty 
and the heat gets worse as summer progresses. Last year examinations were held in June and July and 
children were fainting in the summer heat in schools with no electricity. We're hoping to avoid 
that this year.

We're all donating money to the school in the area so they can remain hooked up to the local power 
generator during the day while the kids are being tested. You can see them in the streets and 
trapped behind car windows looking flushed and wilted. We're all praying that they'll be able to 
finish the year without anything drastic happening (well, relatively drastic).

The air feels stale and stagnant in Baghdad lately. There's disappointment and exhaustion and a 
certain resignation to the anger and fear that seem to have taken over during recent weeks.

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- posted by river @ 12:19 AM

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