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News, 24/9-1/10/03 (1) STATE OF IRAQ * Baghdad's Packed Morgue Marks a City's Descent Into Lawlessness * Most Iraqis take dim view of Bush and Blair * 'At stake in Iraq is the future of the entire region' * Crossed Wires Deprived Iraqis of Electric Power War Plans Ignored Worn Infrastructure * Patriots and invaders * PM: Democracy won't solve Iraq's woes * Postwar tremors deepen Iraq fissures * Iraqi Family Ties Complicate American Efforts for Change * Baghdad Burning - Sheikhs and Tribes... STATE OF IRAQ http://www.occupationwatch.org/article.php?id=936 * BAGHDAD'S PACKED MORGUE MARKS A CITY'S DESCENT INTO LAWLESSNESS by Jeffrey Fleishman Los Angeles Times, 16th September [Extracts from a powerful evocation in the LA Times of the state of lawlessness] BAGHDAD ‹ A sourness stings the morning air as men with wooden coffins tied on taxis come to collect the murdered: a boy shot in the face during a carjacking, a ruffian stabbed in a neighborhood fight, a sheik ambushed by his rivals, a son with a bullet through the heart. U.S.-led coalition forces insist that stability is returning to Iraq. The ledger in the Baghdad morgue tells a different tale. The number of reported gun-related killings in Baghdad has increased 25-fold since President Bush declared an end to major combat May 1. Before the war began, the morgue investigated an average of 20 deaths a month caused by firearms. In June, that number rose to 389 and in August it reached 518. Moreover, the overall number of suspicious deaths jumped from about 250 a month last year to 872 in August. The Baghdad morgue is beyond full. Refrigeration boxes that usually hold six bodies are crammed with 18. An unidentified corpse is dragged across the floor beneath the blue glow of an insect-repelling light. Five others ‹ two pocked with gunshot wounds ‹ lie on steel tables. With quiet determination, pathologists lift their scalpels, chart their findings and fill the waiting coffins. Most of the dead here are not casualties of military actions or terrorist attacks, such as last month's bombing of the United Nations headquarters, which killed at least 20 people. Nor are they American soldiers. Instead, they are everyday civilians, victims of the violence that has become a fact of life in a city that wakes and sleeps to the cadence of gunfire and unrelenting crime. The coalition forces and the new Iraqi police have been unable to stop the torrent of mayhem springing from robberies, carjackings and just plain anger. Many killings, according to police and pathologists, are rooted in revenge. Saddam Hussein's ousted regime murdered tens of thousands in its ongoing terror campaign, but its omnipresent security force limited animosities among tribes and clans. With that shackle broken, the slights and anger that accumulated over the years are being settled with a sort of frontier justice, especially against Baath Party loyalists and other remnants of Hussein's regime. The equation is further complicated by the thousands of criminals Hussein released from prison in the months before the March invasion by U.S.-led coalition forces. And by the tens of thousands of Kalashnikov rifles and pistols that make every neighborhood an arsenal. Coalition troops confiscated heavy weapons in July but allowed Iraqis to keep some light arms for self-defense. These guns often lead to murder. The rash of bloodshed provides a stark indication that Iraqi society is careening out of control and that Hussein's aftermath carries its own incomprehensible brutality. Bodies are fished out of the muddy-green Tigris. They are pulled from alleys, gathered from rooftops and lifted from garbage piles. Some are left on the roadside, like that of Bashar Khammas Mohammed, a 26-year-old taxi driver who was strangled with his own headdress. They are then brought to the morgue, where a meticulous man wearing rubber gloves ties strings around their wrists and assigns each of them a number. "We are a people not yet suitable for democracy," said Sattar Mohammed, who waited the other day with an open coffin to pick up his slain neighbor. "We need to be strictly handled. We need a tight fist over us. We lived like that for 30 years under Saddam Hussein, but now people are free, and they're acting on their will. It is dangerous." That grim assessment is echoed often. "I've been working in this morgue for 29 years," said pathologist Abdul Razzaq Ubaidi. Each of his pale blue folders holds a sheet of paper describing a body. "It used to be accidents and natural deaths. Now there are too many weapons in society. We used to dissect six or seven bodies a day, but now we do 25 to 35 a day, and 80% of them are bullet injuries. We have more freedom, but with the absence of security there is more freedom for murder." A state of lawlessness has resulted as Iraqi society veers between the end of tyranny and unfulfilled promises of stability from an embryonic U.S.-backed government struggling to bring a new form of administration to the country. The police force is understaffed at 38,000 officers nationwide, although it is expected to grow to 65,000. Baghdad has more than 5,000 officers, down from 17,000 before the war. [.....] Silver-rimmed glasses riding low on his nose, Dr. Faik Amin Bakr, director of the Baghdad Forensics Institute, sat at his desk staring at the statistics. They were daunting. In July 2002, he said, suspicious deaths in Baghdad were already high at 237 ‹ a figure not taking into account those who disappeared at the hands of Hussein's security forces. A year later, with U.S. troops on the ground, the figure had more than tripled to 751. "When you see people killed every day, you imagine the insecure situation in the country," Bakr said. "It is difficult to blame somebody," he added later. "Something should be done by the coalition forces.... It is their job and duty." The morgue itself was a victim of crime during the war. Looters stole steel gurneys and electric autopsy saws. Some of the doctors today ‹ who earn $180 a month ‹ must now cut by hand. Like the rest of Baghdad, the morgue faces sporadic shortages of electricity, water and gas. There is also a lack of needles, sutures and other supplies. Bodies appear constantly, as if from a tide. They are photographed, and some ‹ including 21 last Friday ‹ go to the grave in anonymity. "Something should be done," Bakr said. [.....] http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/world/story/0,4386,211625,00.html * MOST IRAQIS TAKE DIM VIEW OF BUSH AND BLAIR Straits Times, nd LOS ANGELES -- Most of Baghdad's citizens were happy to see Saddam Hussein ousted but have mixed feelings about life after his iron rule and are even more ambivalent about the world leaders who removed him, according to a Gallup opinion. Almost two-thirds say Saddam's ouster was worth the hardships of electricity and water shortages they have endured since the United States-led invasion. Yet only 29 per cent of Baghdadis look favourably on US President George W. Bush, and fewer still (20 per cent) view British Premier Tony Blair positively. France, on the other hand, which strongly opposed the war in Iraq, is held in high esteem and 42 per cent view President Jacques Chirac favourably. Some 1,178 in-home interviews were conducted in Baghdad from Aug 28 to Sept 4 for the poll which was released on Wednesday. Also this week, a separate poll conducted by CNN, USA Today and Gallup showed only 48 per cent of Americans now believed going to war in Iraq was worthwhile, and that Mr Bush's approval rating had slipped to a low of 50 per cent. In April, 76 per cent of Americans backed the war. Those interviewed in Baghdad were mostly optimistic about the future. Although nearly half believe Iraq is now worse off than before the war, 67 per cent believe their country would be in better condition in five years' time than it was before the war. -- Reuters http://www.jordantimes.com/Thu/opinion/opinion2.htm * 'AT STAKE IN IRAQ IS THE FUTURE OF THE ENTIRE REGION' by Michael Jansen Jordan Times, 25th September DURING HIS address to the UN General Assembly, US President George Bush made no mention of the many mistakes made by his administration since it took the wrong-headed decision to wage war on Iraq. Instead of standing humbly before the world body and admitting his administration's failings, Bush kept his head high and demanded the assistance of countries who opposed not only his decision to go to war but also the policies adopted by his occupation regime. Unless Bush admits that major mistakes were made and corrects his errors there is no hope for Iraq. The decision to go to war, the ultimate cause of Iraq's current difficulties, was totally wrong because the US did not have the military manpower to commit to the Iraqi theatre for both war and occupation, the ineluctable outcome of the military campaign. US official figures reveal the US military situation at the time Bush decided to launch his military campaign, and today. The US has a total of 1.4 million men and women under arms, including those in the National Guard and reserves. Of this number, only 480,000 are full-time professionals on active duty. According to Global Security, an authoritative defence research institution, 128,568 soldiers from the Reserves and National Guard are also serving at present. This means that the total current pool of military manpower is 608,568. Global Security says that 243,000 US soldiers, sailors, Marines and Coast Guards are deployed in combat, peace-keeping and deterrence operations. There are also 121,000 US military personnel permanently based in Germany, Italy, Britain and Japan, boosting the number of deployed troops to 364,000, 61 per cent of the total. This leaves 244,568 troops at home and available for rotation. The fact that one-quarter of this figure consists of reservists makes it clear that US forces are severely stretched. The figures reveal that US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's doctrine of "lite" deployment was born of necessity not of choice. Rumsfeld was correct in assuming that his "lite" deployment of US forces, bolstered by some 20,000 British combat troops on the ground in Iraq, could defeat the Iraqi army, its weapons seriously depleted by two wars over the past 20 years and a dozen years of sanctions. But Rumsfeld was totally wrong when he assumed that only 30,000 US troops would have to remain in Iraq after September. The number of troops currently in Iraq and the Gulf is estimated at 180,000, six times Rumsfeld's projection. The troop commitment to Iraq alone is said to be between a high of 150,000 and a low of 132,000, of whom 20,000 are reserves. Before the war, Rumsfeld refused to listen to the advice of Army Chief Eric Shinseki who said that "several hundred thousand" troops would be needed to stabilise the country after a war. Shinseki called for a deployment of 300,000-500,000 troops, the latter figure being in line with the ratio of troops to the populace used when dispatching peace-keeping forces to Kosovo and the former Yugoslavia. For the US to reach the levels recommended by Shinseki, who was forced into early retirement by Rumsfeld, it would have had to double or treble its commitment of troops. Since the pool of available manpower was ‹ and is ‹ only 244,568 troops, this was, and is, clearly impossible. Without issuing a mass call-up of reservists or recruiting and training thousands of new troops, Rumsfeld simply did not ‹ and still does not ‹ have the soldiers required to do the job. To make matters worse, the Congressional Budget Office reported that after March 2004 the US could maintain only a force of 38,000-64,000 in Iraq on an indefinite basis. On the one hand, US troops now serving in Iraq have been told they will be going home in April, the majority after a year's deployment. An extension would be met with a sharp decline in morale and, perhaps even, disaffection. Soldiers' families are becoming increasingly vociferous, dimming Bush's prospects in the 2004 presidential race. On the other hand, the administration is spending nearly $4 billion a month on troops in Iraq, rather than the $1.2 billion a month Congress budgeted for this purpose. While the funding problem has been overcome by Bush's $87 billion appropriations bill for Afghanistan (where the US has 10,000 troops) and Iraq ‹ of which $66 billion goes to the military rather than reconstruction ‹the shortage of manpower has not, so far, been seriously addressed, except by Bush when he appealed to the UN for troops from other countries to help stabilise the situation in Iraq. However, the Bush administration seeks to raise fresh foreign troops to replace, rather than bolster, its own soldiers. This means that Rumsfeld and his civilian buddies in the Pentagon fully intend to maintain at the current level the troop commitment to the Iraqi theatre of low level conflict and chaos. If this is the case, Baghdad has little chance of imposing law and order on criminal elements and resistance fighters who are destabilising the country. Having allowed Rumsfeld to make the fundamental miscalculation of waging war with "lite" forces, the Bush administration has compounded its errors by leaving the conduct of the occupation in Rumsfeld's hands. This is a recipe for disaster. The decisions taken by Rumsfeld and his team, including Iraq's chief administrator, L. Paul Bremer III, in the following four areas show why this is so. On the military plane, the occupation began with anarchy and the wholesale pillage and destruction of Iraq's ministries and civilian, military and oil sector infrastructure. US troops, too few to take on the looters, stood by and watched them strip essential facilities. US forces still cannot secure key institutions, protect electricity installations or halt the smuggling of oil or the sabotage of export pipelines. Iraqi army depots and arsenals remain insecured, allowing militants to use small arms and 500-kilogramme bombs to mount attacks on US troops, the UN and other important targets. While more than 70 US troops have been killed by hostile action since May 1, when Bush declared the war to be over, a stunning 6,000 have been sent back to the States with serious physical wounds and mental trauma. On the security plane, the decision to disband the Iraqi police, army and intelligence services has left ignorant US commanders and frightened US soldiers in charge of security. According to morgue records, at least 50 Iraqis are murdered every day in the capital and countless others are robbed, raped or kidnapped. Crude raids on private homes and shootings of Iraqi civilians by trigger-happy US soldiers have boosted Iraqi casualties to 7,798 fatalities and 20,000 wounded, 8,000 in Baghdad alone. On the political plane, the most dangerous error was to appoint Iraq's interim Governing Council on the basis of the sectarian background of its members. Iraq's ministers were selected according to this criterion and members of Iraq's new army and police force are being chosen on the ratio laid down in the council, of 13 Shiites to every 5 Sunnis and Kurds, and every Christian and Turkoman. A poll published in Al Zaman, Baghdad's most influential daily, shows that 98 per cent of Iraqis strongly oppose the communalisation of government and state structures. Finally, on the economic plane, privatising Iraq's public utilities and industries and granting foreign investors the right to 100 per cent ownership of firms established in Iraq is seen by the Iraqi business community as a sell-off of the country's assets and a threat to local companies which cannot compete with multinationals seeking to exploit the free-for-all. At stake in Iraq is the future of the entire region. The collapse of Iraq into warring sectarian statelets could not only destabilise the country's neighbours but also lead to the rise of militant Islamist and nationalist groups with a regional agenda which includes the removal of rulers and governments friendly to the US and the West. If Bush and Rumsfeld remain in charge, Iraq will not become a democratic light unto the Arab world but a core of anarchy spreading chaos throughout the region. NO URL * CROSSED WIRES DEPRIVED IRAQIS OF ELECTRIC POWER WAR PLANS IGNORED WORN INFRASTRUCTURE by Rajiv Chandrasekaran Washington Post, 25th September BAGHDAD -- When grease-stained technicians at the Baghdad South power plant needed spare parts recently, they first submitted a written request to Bechtel Corp., the engineering firm given more than $1 billion in U.S. government contracts to fix Iraq's decrepit infrastructure Then they went to the junkyard. They scoured piles of industrial detritus for abandoned items that could be jury-rigged into the geriatric plant, such as the hydraulic pump from a bulldozer that was used to restart a broken water condenser. "Of course we'd like new parts," sighed Ahmed Ali Shihab, the senior operations engineer. But he said repeated appeals to Bechtel and the U.S. military had not yielded any significant new equipment. "All we have received from them are promises," he said. Although U.S. officials said the requests for new parts were beyond the scope of Bechtel's contract, the failure to get much-needed equipment to Baghdad South more than five months after the first reconstruction teams arrived here illustrates the dearth of planning, funding and coordination that has fettered the overall American effort to rehabilitate Iraq. With new parts, Shihab said, Baghdad South could increase its output by 90 megawatts -- enough to light about 90,000 more homes in the capital, where a severe electricity shortage is causing blackouts every few hours and generating widespread frustration with the U.S. occupation. Instead, the plant limps along, its 1960s-era turbines eking out less than half as much power as they should because of extensive steam and fuel leaks. The problems at Baghdad South helped to convince the Bush administration this summer that its initial strategy to repair the electric system -- which called for Bechtel to spend $230 million on emergency repairs and international donors to fund the construction of new plants -- was not working. Donors were offering only minimal financial support. Looting and sabotage were rampant. The country's power plants were in need of far more than $230 million in stopgap work. With electricity production still below prewar levels -- it is enough to meet only little more than half the national demand -- the administration has shifted gears and asked Congress to devote $5.7 billion to a comprehensive effort to resuscitate Iraq's power system. "Restoring Iraq's electricity is vital to our mission here," said L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civil administrator of Iraq. "It's hard to exaggerate the impact of three decades of crippling under-investment by Saddam Hussein in Iraq's infrastructure," Bremer said in a recent interview. "He spent his nation's money building palaces and weapons and his army, not funding the things people need to survive." But several American and Iraqi specialists contend the U.S. occupation authority has been slow to address the problem. Immediately after Hussein's government fell, they maintain, more money and attention should have been focused on buying spare parts and trucking in large, gas-powered generating units that can each power as many as 40,000 homes. Doing so, they insist, would have reduced the frequency of blackouts and the anger that crystallized toward the occupation. "If they had recognized the problem sooner and devoted more resources to it, the problem wouldn't be as bad as it is now," said an American electrical engineer who works with the occupation authority and spoke on condition of anonymity. "Iraqis would have seen a real improvement in their lives." Instead, he said, "we still have problems like Baghdad South." Built along the meandering Tigris River in 1959, Baghdad South has been a metaphor for Iraq's prosperity and poverty. Its four German-made, steam-powered generating units initially provided more than enough electricity to meet the capital's needs. As demand increased, Iraq turned in 1965 to the United States, acquiring two additional units from General Electric Co. The plant's six towering smokestacks were symbols of the country's oil wealth. "Back then, we were the most advanced power plant in the Arab world," said Bashir Khallaf, the director of Baghdad South. In 1983, before Hussein's war with neighboring Iran had drained the national coffers, the four German generating units were replaced with ones from G.E., handing more business to the United States, which was supporting Iraq in the war. At the time, Khallaf said, the plant never had to operate at its 350-megawatt capacity. The country's electricity supply was almost double its demand. All that changed in 1991. The plant sputtered to a halt after being hit by six U.S. bombs during the Persian Gulf War. American bombing during the war damaged about 75 percent of the country's power-generating capacity, according to U.N. assessments. But Khallaf and other workers brought Baghdad South back to life four months later using plentiful spare parts in its warehouse. After the war, U.N. economic sanctions prevented Iraq from ordering new parts from G.E. As equipment broke, it either was not fixed or was replaced with makeshift devices. With power in increasingly short supply, government officials prevented the plant from shutting down for annual maintenance. The once-modern facility gradually became a collection of leaky pipes, broken gauges and ramshackle devices. In 1996, Iraq struck a deal with the United Nations whereby it could sell its oil and use the revenues for the purchase of humanitarian supplies, including equipment for power plants. But the sanctions effectively prohibited the import of parts that had potential military applications, such as chlorine to purify water going into steam turbine units, further degrading the electricity system. By this January, Baghdad South was barely able to produce 185 megawatts. "We were like an old man losing his energy," Khallaf said. U.S. officials insist that in the months before the Iraq war, the signs of trouble were impossible to see. "This was a closed-off, Stalinist society," one U.S. official here said. "We knew there were repairs that were needed, but we had no idea just how bad things were." But some Iraqi and American specialists contend the warnings were apparent. The U.N. Development Program -- which oversaw the importation of electrical parts under the oil-for food program -- produced extensive reports detailing problems in the power sector. One public U.N. document issued last year noted that Iraq's generating units were "technically and economically obsolete," resulting in a 2,500-megawatt nationwide power shortage and lengthy blackouts. Estimates from Iraqi exiles participating in a State Department planning program for a post Hussein government suggested that power-sector repairs would cost as much as $18 billion. Yet the Bush administration's initial reconstruction plan called for devoting just $230 million of a $680 million Bechtel contract to electricity system repairs. "The telltale signs were there," said the American electrical engineer. "But either because of sheer carelessness or because the [U.S.] government didn't want to reveal how expensive it would be, there was massive under-planning." Then came the American invasion. For the first two weeks of the war, the plant chugged along as normal. But at 8 p.m. on April 3, after particularly intense bombing on Baghdad's outskirts and as columns of U.S. tanks were nearing the airport, the high-voltage lines that are supposed to carry electricity from the plant instead delivered a massive surge, forcing an automatic shutdown, Khallaf said. The same thing happened to every other plant in central Iraq, plunging the capital into darkness and panic. For weeks, nobody -- not U.S. military engineers, not Iraq technicians -- had any idea what happened. Did Hussein order the lights out? Did the Americans bomb a power station? U.S. and Iraqi engineers now believe what happened was that during the fighting around the airport, a loop of high-voltage lines encircling Baghdad was accidentally severed, causing the power grid to become imbalanced and sending surges to every plant on the network. [.....] http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1050760,00.html * PATRIOTS AND INVADERS by Sami Ramadani The Guardian, 27th September It was my first and brutally abrupt realisation that Baghdad, the city of my childhood, is now occupied territory. It was also my first encounter with a potent symbol of Iraqi hostility to the occupation forces. Sitting in the front seat of the taxi that brought us from Amman, I suddenly realised that a heavy machine gun was pointing at us from only a few metres away. It was an American soldier aboard an armoured vehicle in front of us, stuck in a traffic jam on the outskirts of Baghdad. He gestured disapprovingly towards our driver for approaching with some speed, then looked to his left and angrily stuck out a middle finger. I followed his gaze and there was a child of no more than eight or nine sitting in a chair in front of the open gates leading to the garden of his house. He was shouting angrily, with a clenched fist of defiance, cutting the air with swift and furious right hooks. Two weeks later, and after talking to scores of people and touring much of Baghdad, it dawned on me that that child's rebellious, free spirit was a moving and powerful symbol of how most people in Baghdad felt towards the occupation forces. It is precisely this indomitable spirit which survived the decades of Saddam's brutal regime, the numerous wars and the murderous 13 years of sanctions. And it is precisely this spirit that Bush and Blair did not take on board when they decided to invade and occupy Iraq. They chose instead to listen to the echo of their own voices bouncing back at them from some of the Iraqi opposition groups, nurtured, financed and trained by the Pentagon and the CIA. Some of these Iraqi voices are now members of the US-appointed Iraqi governing council. A recent report in the Washington Post backs up the rumours I heard in Baghdad that the Iraqi resistance to occupation is so strong that the authorities are now actively recruiting some of the brutal officers of the security and armed forces that Saddam himself used to suppress the people. If true, the US administration, in the name of fighting the so-called remnants of Saddam's regime, is now busy trying to rebuild the shattered edifice of Saddam's tyrannical state - a tyranny which they had backed and armed with WMD for many years. One of the popular sayings I repeatedly heard in Baghdad, describing the relations between the US and Saddam's regime, is "Rah el sani', ija el ussta" - "gone is the apprentice, in comes the master." The governing council is not so much hated as ridiculed, and attacked for having its members chosen along sectarian lines. Most of the people I talked to think that it is a powerless body: it has no army, no police, and no national budget, but boasts nine rotating presidents. One of the jokes circulating in Baghdad was that no sooner had you brought down Saddam's picture than you were being asked to pin up nine new ones. Support for the council is largely confined to some activists of the organisations that belong to it. Indeed, it could be argued that most supporters of the more credible organisations belonging to the council are opposed to membership of the US-appointed body. The leaders of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri), for example, are finding it increasingly hard to convince these supporters that cooperation with the invaders is still a possible route to independence and democracy. The same goes for another smaller but equally credible party, the Islamic Da'wa, which experienced a split and serious haemorrhaging of membership following its decision to join the council. The now small organisation that enjoyed majority support in Iraq in the late 50s, the Iraqi Communist party (ICP), was opposed to the invasion and the council, but decided to join it at the eleventh hour. Most of its supporters opposed the move. One, a poor truck driver, described it as being even worse than the 1972 ICP leadership decision to join Saddam's government. That policy collapsed in a pool of blood when Saddam turned on the party's members, killing, jailing and forcing into exile thousands of them. The truck driver described the council as "the devil's lump of iron": a saying which refers to the superstitious practice of keeping a small piece of metal in the house to ward off the devil. The gulf between popular sentiment and membership of the council was clear after the murder of the leader of Sciri, Ayatolla Mohammed Baqir Al Hakim. The slogans chanted by the hundreds of thousands who marched in the three-day funeral processions in Baghdad and Najaf - "Death to America, Death to Saddam" and "There is no god but Allah; America is the enemy of Allah; Saddam is the enemy of Allah" - were very much in tune with what I witnessed in Baghdad. They revealed the strength of anti-US feeling in Baghdad and the south. The one area where America has had relative success is Iraqi Kurdistan. The political situation in this region is complex. Most Kurds believed that the no-fly zone during Saddam's reign protected them from his chemical weapons, and it is evident that the sanctions did not hurt Kurdistan as much as it did the rest of Iraq. In the lead-up to the war, most Kurds accepted the tactical notion of being protected against Saddam and the hated Turkish forces. But despite this, it is likely that American plans in Kurdistan will face popular opposition once the realities of US interests and the regional contradictions reassert themselves. Meanwhile, the historic political unity between Arabs and Kurds in Iraq is unlikely to be broken. What of the armed resistance? And why is it much more evident in some parts of Iraq than others? There is no doubt that armed resistance directed against the US forces enjoys wide popular support and is mostly carried out by politically diverse, locally based organisations. However, I also met many in Baghdad who, though supportive of the "patriots" who resist the "invaders", believe that such actions are "premature". One should, they argue, first exhaust all peaceful means, mobilising the people in mass organisations before confronting the occupation forces in armed struggle. Popular sentiment can be gleaned from the conspiracy theories circulating in Baghdad. People routinely blame the US or Israel or Kuwait for attacks on civilian rather than military targets. But you do not need to be a conspiracy theorist to suspect that the main reason for the high intensity of armed conflict in areas of central Iraq and Mosul is that the US itself decided to make these areas the arena for a showdown that they thought they could win more easily, thereby establishing a bridgehead from which they could subdue Baghdad and the south. They provoked conflict by killing civilians in cold blood in Falluja, Mosul, Ramadi and elsewhere long before any armed resistance in those areas. The occupying forces quickly discovered that the slightest provocation in the labyrinthine working-class districts of Baghdad, and most cities of the south, was being met by massive shows of popular strength on the streets. The US military command are surely aware that Iraqis in these areas are heavily armed, well-trained and better organised. The US authority's nonsense about a "Sunni triangle" and "Shi'ite Baghdad and south" is a smokescreen which has so far failed to divide the Iraqi people or drive them into internecine conflict. The only people who now believe that the US will back a democratic path in Iraq are the few who have still not fully grasped America's role in Iraq's modern history, the strategic significance of Iraq, or the nature of US foreign policy today. Leaving the city on the road back to Amman, when our car passed by the house of that precocious child, I realised why my love for Baghdad remained undiminished despite 34 years in exile. Sami Ramadani was a political refugee from Saddam's regime and is a senior lecturer in sociology at London Metropolitan University http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2003/9/27/nation/6368523&sec=nati on * PM: DEMOCRACY WON'T SOLVE IRAQ'S WOES by JOHAN FERNANDEZ AND MAZWIN NIK ANIS in New York The Star (Malaysia). 27th September NEW YORK: Bringing democracy to Iraq does not mean all its problems will be resolved, Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad said. The Prime Minister said Iraq was a diverse country with various ethnic groups like the Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds and they were not going to accept a government ruled by others, even if they became democratic. "We've seen countries adopting democracy overnight. The result is that they do not have a proper government to administer the country well. "All they care about is whose turn it is to run the government," he told a press conference for foreign journalists after addressing the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday. People accuse me of being an authoritarian ruler but the fact is, I'm elected by the people and I'm the only dictator about to resign," he said, drawing laughter from his audience. He said that under Saddam Hussein, whom nobody liked, there was stability and a strong government. "It was a vicious government, if you like, but at least people knew that unless they did something against the government they could have reasonable security. "But when you have a weak government that is unable to enforce laws, then obviously there will be instability like what you see in some very well developed democratic countries. Asked whether Malaysia would send troops to Iraq, Dr Mahathir replied: "No. Unless it is fully under the UN, we are not participating." The Prime Minister also said Muslim nations could become strong once again if they set aside their differences and were united. "Muslim nations have the strength, not military. But lack of unity has paralysed them. Muslims are weak, there is no doubt about that. They are divided by their beliefs and interpretations of Islam and their political convictions. They are not united on anything," he said. On the Organisation of Islamic Countries, of which Malaysia assumes the chair at the end of October, Dr Mahathir said that if it was united, it could exert a very great influence on the situation faced by Muslims and the situation in Iraq. On his calls for reform in the United Nations, the Prime Minister said the UN was not functioning in a democratic environment and while the world may want to see it reform, the veto carrying powers would not allow this to happen. Asked of his previous comments that the secretary-general had not done enough to prevent the war in Iraq and should have resigned, Dr Mahathir said: "The Iraqis were displeased as they felt that sanctions against them were sanctioned by the UN. On the other hand, the UN was ignored when the decision was made to invade Iraq. "So you cannot blame the UN when you realise that it is not capable of taking positive action. Now I can't blame the UN as I had before," he said. [.....] http://www.msnbc.com/news/973262.asp * POSTWAR TREMORS DEEPEN IRAQ FISSURES by Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Anthony Shadid MSNBC, 29th September Source: THE WASHINGTON POST [.....] Although a rift between Sunnis and Shiites is relentlessly discouraged by leaders of both communities, tensions have escalated in recent weeks, raising new prospects of strife. Small bombs have been planted at a handful of mosques in Baghdad. In Khaldiya, a Sunni dominated town west of Baghdad, unknown assailants ransacked the green-domed shrine of a Shiite saint and set off an explosive last month that damaged his brick tomb. In Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, some residents suspect that recent killings of former Baath Party members are inspired by religious zeal, and leaders of Shiite religious parties openly argue that vengeance is warranted against officials of a government that subjugated Shiites, particularly in its last decade of rule. [.....] Iraq's principal ethnic and religious groups have unsettled many Iraqis, who generally oppose the idea of their country breaking apart. They contend U.S. and British occupation forces have played down or ignored many warning signs of a larger conflict that have bubbled forth in the tumult of postwar Iraq. Many of the confrontations have taken place not in large cities where U.S. reconstruction specialists have their offices, but in tiny villages such as Haifa where there are no soldiers or prominent Iraqi leaders to defuse tensions. "I am sure," Jubbouri said, "the Americans have no idea what is happening here." [.....] The problem in Haifa is all about land. Hassan Abid, a farmer with a weathered face and gray-streaked hair, said he moved to Haifa in 1974 along with dozens of other Shiite Arabs fleeing a drought in Diwaniyah, their ancestral home in southern Iraq. "It was a wonderful new home," he said as walked through Haifa, a village of mud-brick homes and dirt streets 20 miles northwest of Kirkuk, a city in northeastern Iraq known for its oil fields. To Kurds, however, the steppe around Kirkuk is Kurdish territory. Tens of thousands of Kurds had lived in the area until Hussein's government, in a campaign against a group he deemed subversive, pushed many of them out and resettled the area with Arabs. But Abid contends Haifa was open land until the Arabs arrived. "There was nobody here before us," he said. "We did not displace the Kurds." He noted that the Arabs of Haifa arrived in 1974, before Hussein's forced relocations began. And, he said, the villagers are Shiites, while those moved under the Hussein government were typically Sunnis. "There should be no dispute here," he said. [.....] Kurdish militiamen swooped into the town of Tuz Khurmatu on April 9, the day before Kirkuk fell. Their mission, according to Kurdish leaders, was to protect the town from looters and Hussein's loyalists. The militiamen, known as pesh merga, seized government buildings and deployed along the town's main streets. "We came to care for Tuz," said Karim Shukor, the local director of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of Iraq's two largest Kurdish political parties. Tuz Khurmatu, built in the shadow of rolling brown hills about 110 miles north of Baghdad, is a nondescript way station of stucco buildings on the road connecting the capital to Kirkuk. Kurds contend that it used to be an entirely Kurdish area. Ethnic Turkmens, who migrated south from present-day Turkey hundreds of years ago, insist the village was exclusively Turkmen until 1975. The Turkmens in Tuz Khurmatu viewed the arrival of the Kurdish militia as a power grab. The jobs of mayor and police chief, formerly held by Hussein-appointed Arabs, were claimed by Kurds. So were other powerful government posts. "They came with arms and took everything," complained Ali Hashem Mukhtar, the local director of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, a coalition of Turkmen political parties. The dispute in Tuz Khurmatu is about political power, not land. Both Kurds and Turkmens believe they are in the majority in this area of about 70,000 people. Shukor contended that records from Hussein's Baath Party, which repressed both groups, lists Kurds at 52 percent of the population and Turkmens at 32 percent. Mukhtar insisted those figures include outlying villages. Within the town, he said, Turkmens are in the majority. Turkmens argue that Kurds are trying to expand the area under their control so towns such as Tuz Khurmatu will be deemed part of a future Kurdish state in a federal Iraq. Kurds, in turn, claim that the Turkmens are agitating at the behest of neighboring Turkey, which opposes Kurdish aspirations for autonomy in the north. Although U.S. forces in the area attempted to quell the tension by creating a town council with equal numbers of Kurds and Turkmens, the powerful posts of mayor and police chief were given to Kurds, leading Turkmens to complain that the Americans were favoring the Kurds in return for their help during the war. As spring turned into summer, the animosity on both sides escalated. Finally, in late August, the town erupted. The spark was the destruction of green-domed Shiite shrine on the khaki-colored hills east of town. The shrine, which had been destroyed during the Hussein era and recently rebuilt, is venerated by the town's predominantly Shiite Turkmen population. In the early hours of Aug. 22, the shrine was blown to rubble with explosives. Turkmens blame the Kurds. The Kurds deny responsibility for the attack. The precise reasons for the blast are not known but Kurds, who are Sunnis, insist the conflict with the Turkmens is about politics, and not religion. [.....] The trouble began in the hamlet of Hamdan on Sept. 14, just as southern Iraq's summer heat was wilting. Along dusty roads, lined with adobe huts and the palm groves for which the region is famous, hundreds of Sunni mourners arrived, armed and angry, according to Shiite residents. Hamdan is a village about a half-hour's drive south of Basra, where the Shatt al Arab river flows into the Persian Gulf. It is the only city in Iraq's Shiite south where Sunnis make up a substantial minority. The Sunnis were marching in a procession to bury five men who they believed were killed a week earlier by members of the Dawa party, a Shiite Muslim movement. In a 15-minute rampage at the local Dawa headquarters, the Sunni mourners ransacked the building, a former schoolhouse. They shot up the cream-colored stucco walls and tossed a grenade inside. They tore down pictures at the entrance of Shiite clergymen, stomped on them, then carted them away. Fires were lit in the mostly vacant rooms and, residents recalled, shots were fired randomly at the concrete and mud-brick houses that line Hamdan's parched groves and farms. [.....] A 10-minute drive away, in the neighboring village of Abu al Khasib, Asad Shihab sat in his mud house, its roof built with trunks of palm trees and dried fronds. Green water collected in a metal bin. A rusted door leaned at the entrance. "If you say we are taking money, look at my roof, look at my water tank," he said. "What's your impression?" It was the death of Shihab's relatives that prompted the funeral march and rampage in Hamdan. He blamed Sayyid Salman Sayyid Talib, the local representative of the Dawa party, one of Basra's largest Shiite political groups. The Dawa party acknowledges that Talib is a member, but denies it ordered him to take any action. Talib is now in hiding. On Sept. 7, Shihab said, Talib captured Shihab's uncle and two brothers in a nearby village after evening prayers. Then, escorted by 30 armed men, Talib headed down a dirt path, past okra plants and a pile of harvested dates, to arrive at Shihab's house, shrouded in dark by a blackout. Two white pickups were parked outside. Talib's men blocked escape routes. "They claimed that there were armed Wahhabis in the house," Shihab said. Shihab hid. But his father and 12-year-old brother were taken away. Two days later, police found two brothers in a busy street in Basra with gunshot wounds to the head, Shihab said. His father and the two others were tortured and killed by throwing acid on them, he said, their bodies dumped in a cesspool of engine oil and stagnant water near a fertilizer plant. He pulled pictures out of a black plastic bag, showing the bloated corpses in a row before the police station. Some had blindfolds; others had their legs bound. "Those people are trying to ignite sectarian fitna between the people," he said, wearing the long beard of religious devotion and a face grim with smoldering anger. "These are not good tidings. This will bring trouble." [.....] The British who occupy Basra insist religious differences are under control. The deaths and the protest that followed probably had "something to do with a tribal dispute," said Maj. Charlie Mayo, a military spokesman. As for sectarian strife, "I'd say the lid is on it at the moment," he said. [.....] http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/28/international/middleeast/28CLAN.html * IRAQI FAMILY TIES COMPLICATE AMERICAN EFFORTS FOR CHANGE by JOHN TIERNEY New York Times, 28th September LEMIYA, Iraq, Sept. 27 ‹ Iqbal Muhammad does not recall her first glimpse of her future husband, because they were both newborns at the time, but she remembers precisely when she knew he was the one. It was the afternoon her uncle walked over from his house next door and proposed that she marry his son Muhammad. Advertisement "I was a little surprised, but I knew right away it was a wise choice," she said, recalling that afternoon nine years ago, when she and Muhammad were 22. "It is safer to marry a cousin than a stranger." Her reaction was typical in a country where nearly half of marriages are between first or second cousins, a statistic that is one of the more important and least understood differences between Iraq and America. The extraordinarily strong family bonds complicate virtually everything Americans are trying to do here, from finding Saddam Hussein to changing women's status to creating a liberal democracy. "Americans just don't understand what a different world Iraq is because of these highly unusual cousin marriages," said Robin Fox of Rutgers University, the author of "Kinship and Marriage," a widely used anthropology textbook. "Liberal democracy is based on the Western idea of autonomous individuals committed to a public good, but that's not how members of these tight and bounded kin groups see the world. Their world is divided into two groups: kin and strangers." Iraqis frequently describe nepotism not as a civic problem but as a moral duty. The notion that Iraq's next leader would put public service ahead of family obligations drew a smile from Iqbal's uncle and father-in-law, Sheik Yousif Sayel, the patriarch in charge of the clan's farm on the Tigris River south of Baghdad. "In this country, whoever is in power will bring his relatives in from the village and give them important positions," Sheik Yousif said, sitting in the garden surrounded by some of his 21 children and 83 grandchildren. "That is what Saddam did, and now those relatives are fulfilling their obligation to protect him from the Americans." Saddam Hussein married a first cousin who grew up in the same house as he did, and he ordered most of his children to marry their cousins. Sheik Yousif said he never forced any of his children to marry anyone, but more than half of the ones to marry have wed cousins. The patriarch was often the one who first suggested the match, as he did with his son Muhammad nine years ago. "My father said that I was old enough to get married, and I agreed," Muhammad recalled. "He and my mother recommended Iqbal. I respected their wishes. It was my desire, too. We knew each other. It was much simpler to marry within the family." A month later, after the wedding, Iqbal moved next door to the home of Sheik Yousif. Moving in with the in-laws might be an American bride's nightmare, but Iqbal said her toughest adjustment occurred five years later, when Sheik Yousif decided that she and Muhammad were ready to live by themselves in a new home he provided just behind his own. "I felt a little lonely at first when we moved into the house by ourselves," Iqbal said. Muhammad said he, too, felt lonely in the new house, and he expressed pity for American parents and children living thousands of miles from each other. Sheik Yousif, who is 82, said he could not imagine how the elderly in America coped in their homes alone. "I could not bear to go a week without seeing my children," he said. Some of his daughters have married outsiders and moved into other patriarchal clans, but the rest of the children are never far away. Muhammad and three other sons live on the farm with him, helping to supervise the harvesting of barley, wheat and oranges, and the dates from the palm trees on their land. The other six sons have moved 15 miles away to Baghdad, but they come back often for meals and in hard times. During the war in the spring, almost the whole clan took refuge at the farm. Next to the family, the sons' social priority is the tribe, Sadah, which has several thousand members in the area and is led by Sheik Yousif. He and his children see their neighbors when praying at Sunni mosques, but none belong to the kind of civic professional groups that are so common in America, the pillars of civil society that observers since de Tocqueville have been crediting for the promotion of democracy. "I told my children not to participate in any outside groups or clubs," Sheik Yousif said. "We don't want distractions. We have a dynasty to preserve." To make his point, he told his sons to unroll the family tree, a scroll 70 feet long with lots of cousins intertwined in the branches. Cousin marriage was once the norm throughout the world, but it became taboo in Europe after a long campaign by the Roman Catholic Church. Theologians like St. Augustine and St. Thomas argued that the practice promoted family loyalties at the expense of universal love and social harmony. Eliminating it was seen as a way to reduce clan warfare and promote loyalty to larger social institutions ‹ like the church. The practice became rare in the West, especially after evidence emerged of genetic risks to offspring, but it has persisted in some places, notably the Middle East, which is exceptional because of both the high prevalence and the restrictive form it takes. In other societies, a woman typically weds a cousin outside her social group, like a maternal cousin living in a clan led by a different patriarch. But in Iraq the ideal is for the woman to remain within the clan by marrying the son of her father's brother, as Iqbal did. The families resulting from these marriages have made nation-building a frustrating process in the Middle East, as King Faisal and T. E. Lawrence both complained after efforts to unite Arab tribes. "The tribes were convinced that they had made a free and Arab Government, and that each of them was It," Lawrence wrote in "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" in 1926. "They were independent and would enjoy themselves a conviction and resolution which might have led to anarchy, if they had not made more stringent the family tie, and the bonds of kin responsibility. But this entailed a negation of central power." That dichotomy remains today, said Ihsan M. al-Hassan, a sociologist at the University of Baghdad. At the local level, the clan traditions provide more support and stability than Western institutions, he said, noting that the divorce rate among married cousins is only 2 percent in Iraq, versus 30 percent for other Iraqi couples. But the local ties create national complications. "The traditional Iraqis who marry their cousins are very suspicious of outsiders," Dr. Hassan said. "In a modern state a citizen's allegiance is to the state, but theirs is to their clan and their tribe. If one person in your clan does something wrong, you favor him anyway, and you expect others to treat their relatives the same way." The more educated and urbanized Iraqis have become, Dr. Hassan said, the more they are likely to marry outsiders and adopt Western values. But the clan traditions have hardly disappeared in the cities, as is evident by the just-married cousins who parade Thursday evenings into the Babylon Hotel in Baghdad. Surveys in Baghdad and other Arab cities in the past two decades have found that close to half of marriages are between first or second cousins. The prevalence of cousin marriage did not get much attention before the war from Republicans in the United States who expected a quick, orderly transition to democracy in Iraq. But one writer who investigated the practice warned fellow conservatives to stop expecting postwar Iraq to resemble postwar Germany or Japan. "The deep social structure of Iraq is the complete opposite of those two true nation-states, with their highly patriotic, cooperative, and (not surprisingly) outbred peoples," Steve Sailer wrote in The American Conservative magazine in January. "The Iraqis, in contrast, more closely resemble the Hatfields and the McCoys." The skeptics have local history on their side, because Middle Eastern countries have tended toward either internecine conflict or authoritarian government dominated by kin, cronies and religious leaders. Elsewhere, though, democracy has coexisted with strong kinship systems. "Japan and India have managed to blend traditional social structures with modern democracy, and Iraq could do the same," said Stanley Kurtz, an anthropologist at the Hoover Institution. But it will take time and finesse, he said, along with respect for traditions like women wearing the veil. "A key purpose of veiling is to prevent outsiders from competing with a woman's cousins for marriage," Dr. Kurtz said. "Attack veiling, and you are attacking the core of the Middle Eastern social system." Sheik Yousif and his sons said they put no faith in American promises of democracy ‹ or any other promises, for that matter. "Do you know why Saddam Hussein has not been captured?" asked Saleh, the oldest son of Sheik Yousif. "Because his own family will never turn him in, and no one else trusts the Americans to pay the reward." Saleh dismissed the reports that Americans had given $30 million and safe passage out of Iraq to the informant who turned in Mr. Hussein's sons. "I assure you that never happened," Saleh said. "The American soldiers brought out a camera and gave him the money in front of a witness, and then they took him toward the Turkish border. Near the border they killed him and buried him in a valley. They wanted the money for their own families." http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/ * BAGHDAD BURNING Monday, September 29, 2003 Sheikhs and Tribes... A few people pointed out an article to me titled "Iraqi Family Ties Complicate American Efforts for Change", by John Tierney. You need to be registered in New York Times to read it, but since registration is free, the articles are sometimes worth the hassle. I could comment for days on the article but I'll have to make it as brief as possible, and I'll also have to make it in two parts. Today I'll blog about tribes and sheikhs and tomorrow I'll blog about cousins and veils. Iraqi family ties are complicating things for Americans- true. But not for the reasons Tierney states. He simplifies the whole situation incredibly by stating that because Iraqis tend to marry cousins, they'll be less likely to turn each other in to American forces for all sorts of reasons that all lead back to nepotism. First and foremost, in Baghdad, Mosul, Basrah, Kirkuk and various other large cities in Iraq, marrying cousins is out of style, and not very popular, when you have other choices. Most people who get into college end up marrying someone from college or someone they meet at work. In other areas, cousins marry each other for the simple reason that many smaller cities and provinces are dominated by 4 or 5 huge 'tribes' or 'clans'. So, naturally, everyone who isn't a parent, grandparent, brother, sister, aunt or uncle is a 'cousin'. These tribes are led by one or more Sheikhs. When people hear the word 'tribe' or 'sheikh', they instantly imagine, I'm sure, Bedouins on camels and scenes from Lawrence of Arabia. Many modern-day Sheikhs in Iraq have college degrees. Many have lived abroad and own property in London, Beirut and various other glamorous capitalsŠ they ride around in Mercedes' and live in sprawling villas fully furnished with Victorian furniture, Persian carpets, oil paintings, and air conditioners. Some of them have British, German or American wives. A Sheikh is respected highly both by his clan members and by the members of other clans or tribes. He is usually considered the wisest or most influential member of the family. He is often also the wealthiest. Sheikhs also have many duties. The modern Sheikh acts as a sort of family judge for the larger family disputes. He may have to give verdicts on anything from a land dispute to a marital spat. His word isn't necessarily law, but any family member who decides to go against it is considered on his own, i.e. without the support and influence of the tribe. They are also responsible for the well-being of many of the poorer members of the tribe who come to them for help. We had relatively few orphans in orphanages in Iraq because the tribe takes in children without parents and they are often under the care of the sheikh's direct family. The sheikh's wife is sort of the 'First Lady' of the family and has a lot of influence with family members. Shortly after the occupation, Jay Garner began meeting with the prominent members of Iraqi society- businessmen, religious leaders, academicians and sheikhs. The sheikhs were important because each sheikh basically had influence over hundreds, if not thousands, of 'family'. The prominent sheikhs from all over Iraq were brought together in a huge conference of sorts. They sat gathered, staring at the representative of the occupation forces who, I think, was British and sat speaking in broken, awkward Arabic. He told the sheikhs that Garner and friends really needed their help to build a democratic Iraq. They were powerful, influential people- they could contribute a lot to society. A few of the sheikhs were bitter. One of the most prominent had lost 18 family members with one blow when the American forces dropped a cluster bomb on his home, outside of Baghdad, and killed women, children, and grandchildren all gathered together in fear. The only survivor of that massacre was a two-year-old boy who had to have his foot amputated. Another sheikh was the head of a family in Basrah who lost 8 people to a missile that fell on their home, while they slept. The scenes of the house were beyond horrid- a mess of broken furniture, crumbling walls and severed arms and legs. Almost every single sheikh had his own woeful story to tell. They were angry and annoyed. And these weren't people who loved Saddam. Many of them hated the former regime because in a fit of socialism, during the eighties, a law was established that allowed thousands of acres of land to be confiscated from wealthy landowners and sheikhs and divided out between poor farmers. They resented the fact that land they had owned for several generations was being given out to nobody farmers who would no longer be willing to harvest their fields. So they came to the meeting, wary but willing to listen. Many of them rose to speak. They told the representative right away that the Americans and British were occupiers- that was undeniable, but they were willing to help if it would move the country forward. Their one stipulation was the following: that they be given a timetable that gave a general idea of when the occupation forces would pull out of Iraq. They told the representative that they couldn't go back to their '3shayir', or tribes, asking them to 'please cooperate with the Americans although they killed your families, raided your homes, and detained your sons' without some promise that, should security prevail, there would be prompt elections and a withdrawal of occupation forces. Some of them also wanted to contribute politically. They had influence, power and connectionsŠ they wanted to be useful in some way. The representative frowned, fumbled and told them that there was no way he was going to promise a withdrawal of occupation forces. They would be in Iraq 'as long as they were needed'Š that might be two years, that might be five years and it might be ten years. There were going to be no promisesŠ there certainly was no 'timetable' and the sheikhs had no say in what was going on- they could simply consent. The whole group, in a storm of indignation and helplessness, rose to leave the meeting. They left the representative looking frustrated and foolish, frowning at the diminishing mass in front of him. When asked to comment on how the meeting went, he smiled, waved a hand and replied, "No comment." When one of the prominent sheikhs was asked how the meeting went, he angrily said that it wasn't a conference- they had gathered up the sheikhs to 'give them orders' without a willingness to listen to the other side of the story or even to compromiseŠ the representative thought he was talking to his own private army- not the pillars of tribal society in Iraq. Apparently, the sheikhs were blacklisted because, of late, their houses are being targeted. They are raided in the middle of the night with armored cars, troops and helicopters. The sheikh and his immediate family members are pushed to the ground with a booted foot and held there at gunpoint. The house is searched and often looted and the sheikh and his sons are dragged off with hands behind their backs and bags covering their heads. The whole family is left outraged and incredulous: the most respected member of the tribe is being imprisoned for no particular reason except that they may need him for questioning. In many cases, the sheikh is returned a few days later with an 'apology', only to be raided and detained once more! I would think that publicly humiliating and detaining respected members of society like sheikhs and religious leaders would contribute more to throttling democracy than 'cousins marrying cousins'. Many of the attacks against the occupying forces are acts of revenge for assaulted family members, or people who were killed during raids, demonstrations or checkpoints. But the author fails to mention that, of course. He also fails to mention that because many of the provinces are in fact governed by the sheikhs of large tribes, they are much safer than Baghdad and parts of the south. Baghdad is an eclectic mix of Iraqis from all over the country and sheikhs have little influence over members outside of their family. In smaller provinces or towns, on the other hand, looting and abduction are rare because the criminal will have a virtual army to answer to- not a confused, and often careless, occupying army and some frightened Iraqi police. Iraq is not some backward country overrun by ignorant land sheikhs or oil princes. People have a deep respect for wisdom and 'origin'. People can trace their families back for hundreds of years and the need to 'belong' to a specific family or tribe and have a sheikh doesn't hinder education, modernization, democracy or culture. Arabs and Kurds in the region have strong tribal ties and it is considered an honor to have a strong family backing- even if you don't care about tribal law or have strayed far from family influence. I'm an example of a modern-day, Iraqi female who is a part of a tribe- I've never met our sheikh- I've never needed toŠ I have a university degree, I had a job and I have a family who would sacrifice a lot to protect meŠ and none of this hinders me from having ambition or a sense of obligation towards law and order. I also want democracy, security, and a civil, healthy societyŠ right along with the strong family bonds I'm accustomed to as an Iraqi. Who knows? Maybe I'll start a tribal blog and become a virtual sheikh myselfŠ Wednesday, October 01, 2003 Cousins and Veils This is some further commentary on John Tierney's article "Iraq Family Ties Complicate American Efforts for Change", printed in the New York Times. "A key purpose of veiling is to prevent outsiders from competing with a woman's cousins for marriage," Dr. Kurtz said. "Attack veiling, and you are attacking the core of the Middle Eastern social system." Thank you Stanley Kurtz, anthropologist at the Hoover Institution. He took hundreds of years of wearing the veil for religious reasons and relegated it all to the oppression of females by their male cousins. Wow- human nature is that simple. I can see the image now- my cousins roaming the opening of our cave, holding clubs and keeping a wary eye on the female members of their clanŠ and us cowed, frightened females all gathered in groups, murmuring behind our veilsŠ I have a question: why is Dr. Kurtz using the word 'veil' in relation to Iraq? Very, very few females wore veils or burqas prior to the occupation. Note that I say 'veil' or 'burqa'. If Dr. Kurtz meant the general 'hijab' or headscarf worn on the hair by millions of Muslim females instead of an actual 'veil' then he should have been more specific. While a 'veil' in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan is quite common, in Iraq it speaks of extremism. It is uncommon because the majority of moderate Muslim clerics believe it is unnecessary. A 'veil' is a piece of cloth that covers the whole face and head. It is called a 'veil' in English and called a 'burgu3' (burqa), 'khimar', or 'pushi' in Iraq. The khimar or burqa either covers the whole face, or covers it all with the exception of the eyes. The standard 'hijab' or 'rabta' is a simple headscarf that covers the hair and neck, and can be worn in a variety of ways. The majority of 'covered' females in Iraq wear a simple hijab. Some fashionable females wear a turban-like head cover and something with a high collar that generally serves the same purpose. The hijab can be any color. Some women prefer white, others black and I have friends who own every color and design imaginable and look so good, it almost seems more like a fashion statement than a religious one. The 'abaya', on the other hand, is a long, cloak-like garment and is more traditional, than it is religious. Although designs vary, the abaya is similar in style to the standard graduation robe- long, wide and flowing. Some abayas are designed to cover the head, and others are made only to wear on the shoulders. Men, as well as women, wear abayas. The feminine abayas are often black and may have some sort of design on them. Male abayas are plain, with perhaps some simple embroidery along the edges and are brown, black, gray, beige or khaki. Abayas are often worn in Iraq, although the younger generations don't like them- I haven't worn one yet. The hijab can be worn with ordinary clothing- skirts, shirts and pants as long as they are 'appropriate'. The skirt should be somewhat long, the shirt a little bit loose and the sleeves should be below the elbows and, if worn with pants, a bit long. The purpose of the hijab is to protect females from sexual harassment. It acts as a sort of safeguard against ogling and uninvited attention. There is such a [sic-PB] Muslim females do not wear a hijab or veil because their male cousins MAKE them wear it. They wear it for religious reasons. I personally don't wear a hijab or headscarf, but I know many females who do- in Baghdad, in Mosul, in Najaf, in Kerbela, in FalloojehŠ in Jordan, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Saudi ArabiaŠ and NONE of these females wear a headscarf because their COUSINS make them wear it. They wear the headscarf out of a conviction that it is the correct thing to do and out of the comfort and security it gives them. Cousins have nothing to do with it and Dr. Kurtz's very simplistic explanation is an insult. Dr. Kurtz would have better said, "Attack the headscarf or the hijab and you are attacking the core of the Middle Eastern social system because the majority of the Middle East is Muslim and the headscarf is considered a required part of Islam by a huge number of Muslims." Attacking the hijab would be the equivalent of attacking a Christian's right to wear a cross, or a Jew's right to wear a yarmulkeŠ [Comment by PB: Why can't I, as a western male, not wear an 'abaya'. Why am I stuck with such ugly clothes, forced to wrap my legs in a pair of polyester tubes? After all, its a free country ... I'm not a slave to outdated tribal conventions. Am I?] _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk