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Ross
11-22-2004, 04:06 PM
Just another entry for those interested in a close-up view of what's going on in Bagdad and elsewhere in Iraq. Chronicles the juxtaposition of normal life (the blogger's brother is worried about a school exam) and crazy violence (he can't get help from Iraqi police because they are prisoners in their own station). Also comments on the Iraqis reaction to the shooting by the US soldier.

http://healingiraq.blogspot.com/

Friday, November 19:
...
We enjoyed a meal at a busy restaurant in Arasat, after an hour of waiting, and set back home. The streets were gradually filling up by now. Maybe after a day and a half of watching news word slowly got out that it was reasonably safe to visit friends and relatives as the Eid holiday has no taste without family gatherings.

The main course of discussion during these meetings, as usual, was about politics. There is never a consensus when discussing the current situation in the country, every family is divided. The explosive situation in Fallujah and other areas north of Baghdad has provided a starting point for the debates and they usually end with much table banging, fist shaking and a chorus of deafening voices and screams which result of everyone trying to speak at the same time. Usually, the one with the loudest voice (not argument) wins.

The above scene is a very common and normal one in an Iraqi household. Family discussions have always been that way as far back as I can remember.

***

Fighting resumed on the morning of the third day of Eid. A police station was encircled by armed groups in Adhamiya and we heard mortar shellings throughout the day. As a result, the streets were empty again. We also watched with horror the video of the Marine soldier shooting an injured Iraqi inside a Fallujah mosque. Everyone in Baghdad was talking about the incident. The casual manner in which it was done suggests that this was not something out of the ordinary.

I heard all the justifications from the US military; insurgents were placing booby traps on their dead and injured, the soldier was disturbed, he had a bad day, etc. None of them stand the test. This was a vile and despicable act, a crime of war, pure and simple. True, the man might have been a foreign fighter, a potential suicide bomber, a baby killer, whatever, but he might have also been an injured civilian caught in cross fire during the heat of battle crawling to what he perceived a safe area.

Such questions are irrelevant in war, though. We can write a whole book about the subject but it would still achieve nothing.

I mentioned before that I was not optimistic to the outcome of this assault on Fallujah. The city is in shambles and violence has spread to other locations. Here is another map for your perusal.

I have plenty on my mind but I'm too tired to write more. I have to prepare for another trip back to Basrah.


Saturday, November 20, 2004
Fierce fighting has been going on in several areas of Baghdad for the last 4 hours. I was supposed to leave for Basrah this morning, as soon as I walked out of the front door I was face to face with ten or so hooded men dressed in black carrying Ak-47's and RPG's. They had set up a checkpoint right in front of our door.

Someone barked at me to go inside. Nabil was also about to leave for his school. His driver had just called him and said that he was turned back at the street entrance by another checkpoint. We looked at the main intersection and it was swarming with armed men running about and motioning drivers and pedestrians to leave the area.

We watched them from behind the door with my mother frantically trying to get us inside. There was an exchange of fire and someone was bellowing "Where are the National traitors? (referring to the National Guards) Let them come and taste this." More shooting followed.

Tens of voices on the street were chanting "Allahu Akbar" and the ground beneath us suddenly shook from a nearby explosion. The shooting was frantic now and a series of explosions followed. Everyone in the house rushed to open windows to prevent their shattering from the pressure.

We got phonecalls from relatives in other areas asking what was going on. There was fighting in Adhamiya, Sulaikh, Haifa street, Sha'ab, Ghazaliya and Amiriya according to a brief news flash on Al-Jazeera.

Nabil was complaining about an exam he had at school and I was getting called every now and then by a friend who was supposed to meet me at Al-Nahdha garage at 8 sharp. Needless to say, I cancelled the trip.

A jet fighter was now screeching over our heads and it let off some flares apparently in an attempt to scare away the 'Mujahideen'. They left their positions for a while and slowly people started to come out. Parents nervously dragging schoolchildren behind them and youngsters who were undecided whether to move on or return home.

A few explosions were heard followed by further shooting around the street corner which sent everyone in our street running in the opposite direction. The hooded men in black reappeared.

The shooting seems less intense at the moment but we can still hear it going on.


UPDATE: I had to sleep during the day since I was up all night yesterday. The fighting hasn't ceased yet. I woke up several times to hear nearby explosions and then I drift back to sleep.

Just in case you were wondering. Yes, we did contact the police in our neighbourhood using the public phone numbers they had given out a couple of months ago. Guess what? They were surrounded by insurgents and couldn't do anything about it. In Adhamiya, the police station was set on fire and four policemen were killed in the fighting, the rest seem to have left their posts. The National Guard base in Saddam's former palace near the Adhamiya bridge was also under attack for the whole day.

Relatives calling us from other areas confirmed that the clashes erupted all at once around 6:30 am indicating that this was a coordinated movement. Many say this was in response to the incident yesterday at the Abu Hanifa mosque in Adhamiya which is a sacred Sunni shrine. Apparently storming the mosque during the friday prayers has provoked Arab and Muslim clerics to call for Jihad yet again. Qardhawi reiterated his call for Jihad in Iraq yesterday on Al-Jazeera describing it as a "religious duty", and the International Union of Muslim Scholars based in Pakistan has also called all Muslims to head to Iraq for Jihad.

One can't help but notice that the clerics who usually incite holy wars in Iraq against the US occupation on the expense of Iraqis are based in countries allied to the US such as Qatar, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. On the other hand, you have Sheikh Salah Al-Din Kuftaro, son of Sheikh Ahmed Kuftaro, the late Grand Mufti of Syria, publicly denouncing the behaviour of Iraqi insurgents yesterday during Friday prayers at the Kuftaro mosque in Damascus. He described them as the "present day Kharijites" and their actions as "unislamic".

nAz
11-22-2004, 05:18 PM
Great blog Ross, it's fascinating to read what is happening over there through the eyes Average Iraqi(?)

Saturday, November 20, 2004
Fierce fighting has been going on in several areas of Baghdad for the last 4 hours. I was supposed to leave for Basrah this morning, as soon as I walked out of the front door I was face to face with ten or so hooded men dressed in black carrying Ak-47's and RPG's. They had set up a checkpoint right in front of our door.

Someone barked at me to go inside. Nabil was also about to leave for his school. His driver had just called him and said that he was turned back at the street entrance by another checkpoint. We looked at the main intersection and it was swarming with armed men running about and motioning drivers and pedestrians to leave the area.

We watched them from behind the door with my mother frantically trying to get us inside. There was an exchange of fire and someone was bellowing "Where are the National traitors? (referring to the National Guards) Let them come and taste this." More shooting followed.

Tens of voices on the street were chanting "Allahu Akbar" and the ground beneath us suddenly shook from a nearby explosion. The shooting was frantic now and a series of explosions followed. Everyone in the house rushed to open windows to prevent their shattering from the pressure.

We got phonecalls from relatives in other areas asking what was going on. There was fighting in Adhamiya, Sulaikh, Haifa street, Sha'ab, Ghazaliya and Amiriya according to a brief news flash on Al-Jazeera.

Nabil was complaining about an exam he had at school and I was getting called every now and then by a friend who was supposed to meet me at Al-Nahdha garage at 8 sharp. Needless to say, I cancelled the trip.

A jet fighter was now screeching over our heads and it let off some flares apparently in an attempt to scare away the 'Mujahideen'. They left their positions for a while and slowly people started to come out. Parents nervously dragging schoolchildren behind them and youngsters who were undecided whether to move on or return home.

A few explosions were heard followed by further shooting around the street corner which sent everyone in our street running in the opposite direction. The hooded men in black reappeared.

The shooting seems less intense at the moment but we can still hear it going on.