The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] Ramadan and US 'Liberation'

[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ]

Ask AbIout IslamAsk the Scholar
 Iraqis and the Occupation
Bloody Ramadan Begins in Iraq
By Firas Al-Atraqchi
Freelance Columnist  27/10/2003 
Baghdad is burning.
The stench of death and mutilated corpses filled the air on the first day of
Ramadan (the spiritual holy month for 1.3 billion Muslims) in Baghdad. A
time usually earmarked for atonement, spiritual renewal and compassion has
taken on deadly implications as some 40 people have died (at press time) in
a spate of suicide bombings and attacks throughout the Iraqi capital. And
that is in Baghdad only­ one wonders what is in store for the rest of Iraq.
- 16 Killed, Dozens Injured in Baghdad Attacks
The attacks targeted the compound of the International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC), the Abu Ghraib prison where US forces maintain a camp, a
number of police stations, and the Al-Rashid Hotel in central Baghdad.
The attacks have become more brazen and have increased in frequency.
According to the Associated Press, one failed suicide bomber screamed ³Death
to the Iraqi police! You¹re collaborators!²
The signs were there. Any historian of Iraqi culture and politics could have
easily predicted that this Ramadan would be a bloody one. Any student of the
history of US occupations (remember the Vietnam Tet offensive?) could have
predicted what would happen during the first Ramadan under occupation.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warned of this repeatedly.
Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, said that an occupation of
Iraq ³would open the gates of hell.²
Baghdad is a living hell on the first day of the holiest month of the
Islamic calendar.
Semantics do count here. For one, this is an occupation: An Al Jazeera poll
found that more than two thirds of Iraqis considered the US presence in Iraq
to be an occupation. The word itself has negative connotations and inspires
expressions of combating the occupier, whether peacefully or violently.
The US is not in control. Despite the desperate statements by White House,
Pentagon and State Department officials that Iraq is secure and becoming
safer by the day, events on the ground are ostensibly to the contrary. There
are numerous crimes ­ from rape, murder, kidnapping, to revenge killing ­
that are not accounted for by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) nor
non-Arab media. The news of such events amount to no more than a trickle.
After the 10-missile attack on the Al-Rashid Hotel, which has become a
makeshift center of operations for US forces and visiting Congressional
delegations, hotel resident and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
quickly escaped, fearing for his life. At a press conference a few hours
later, Wolfowitz appeared shaken, his apparel disheveled. He said that the
violence would not deter the US mission to ³bring democracy² to Iraq.
Some democracy.
Iraqis are dying en masse. Whether getting run over by half-sane US drivers,
getting gunned down by nervous US soldiers on alert from constant attacks
(four Iraqi civilians were killed by US soldiers earlier Monday) or getting
attacked by Iraqi resistance fighters for collaborating with occupation
forces, the number of Iraqi dead is surpassing 50 a week. Since Iraq¹s
police force was reactivated, some 87 Iraqi policemen, including senior
force officers, have been killed.
The US-controlled CPA may now rescind its decision to lift the night-time
curfew imposed on Baghdad for the past six months. Iraqi analysts had warned
that such a move could likely result in an upsurge in violence.
Nevertheless, the CPA and the Iraqi Governing Council, both keen on
cementing a relationship with the Iraqi people, felt that by lifting the
curfew in Ramadan they would gain the confidence of local residents.
After Bloody Monday, neither the Iraqis nor the US soldiers are confident
any longer that they are about to enter into more stable times.
The attacks are almost certainly devised to undermine the US presence in
Iraq. For one, it highlights to the Iraqi people that their new Œrulers¹
cannot protect them. This has severe psychological implications: it is
designed to ensure that those Œcollaborators¹ working with the CPA desist
from doing so. It is also designed as a show of force; whether it is Saddam
fedayeen, independent Iraqi resistance or foreign Islamic fighters who carry
out these attacks, the message is that the US is not the only power in Iraq.
The depth, coordination and ensuing devastation of these attacks show that
there is a highly mobile, highly sophisticated and highly determined
organization (or union of organizations) with the resources, technical
prowess and popular support to keep the CPA weak and vulnerable.
Iraqis will now think twice before agreeing to working with the CPA.
It remains to be seen how the relationship between the Iraqi police and US
forces will be affected.
The UN has packed up and left. Various human rights and humanitarian
assistance groups have pulled out. Now the ICRC is likely to pack up and
leave. This is very discouraging for other international efforts aimed at
restoring stability and speeding up rebuilding initiatives in Iraq.
In light of recent events, the 30-billion-dollar pledges from the Madrid
conference no longer signal a diplomatic victory for the Bush
Firas Al-Atraqchi is a Canadian journalist of Iraqi heritage. Holding an MA
in Journalism and Mass Communication, he has eleven years of experience
covering Middle East issues, oil and gas markets, and the telecom industry.
You can reach him at (

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]