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#729161 - 04/10/05 03:53 PM A Year with the Iraqi Resistance
yhabpo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/22/04
Posts: 489
Beyond Fallujah
A Year with the Iraqi Resistance

by Patrick Graham

Early one morning in April, a Monday, an Iraqi doctor and I piled medicine for the Fallujah hospital into the back of his car. I had dyed my hair black, and a friend had made me a fake Iraqi I.D. By then, various groups around the country were holding dozens of foreign hostages; driving out of Baghdad was like slipping into a shark tank. Ahead of us on the road were convoys of trucks, carrying aid and probably weapons. Men from all the Sunni areas, I was told, were coming to Fallujah to fight, a situation that one U.S. Marine had called the Sunni "Super Bowl."
Inside the city itself, the resistance had set up checkpoints every 100 feet. At the tenth checkpoint we were stopped and interrogated. A gun was put to the head of the doctor's uncle, who had accompanied us. We had planned for this eventuality: I was to pretend to be the doctor's mentally ill brother. For this reason I was wearing a suit. I muttered my Iraqi name to the guard. They took us to a mosque at the edge of the industrial zone, where the fighting had been the heaviest. Occasionally a bullet pinged into the asphalt. "Snipers," said the guard.

In the courtyard of the mosque, armed gunmen stood around boxes of medicine. We were taken to an inner room, where a man in the white robes of a conservative Muslim cleric quizzed me. I mumbled in a way that sounded, I hoped, like the product of some sort of brain aneurysm. Upstairs in the mosque, I learned later, the resistance was holding sixteen foreign hostages. We left with a note from the imam of the mosque that asked resistance fighters to let us pass. The guards were very concerned about my health, and were angry at the doctor for having brought his sick brother to such a dangerous place.

Fallujah, which sits along the Euphrates River, is a drab market town, filled with two-story apartment buildings and walled houses the color of a dust storm. Most of the streets are lined with low buildings; piles of old tires and pieces of cars sit in front of small shops. As we drove through the nearly empty streets, hundreds of fighters stood around in small groups. For a while, we followed an ambulance with a single bullet hole in its back window: a clean shot at the driver. Most families had left the city, our escort told us. We heard tanks firing, the low buzz of a circling drone, and the repetitive thud of heavy machine-gun fire. Jet fighters dropped the occasional missile. This was supposedly a cease-fire. The hospital reported that more than 600 people had already been killed, and the Marines had taken only a few neighborhoods. The Western press often had described the insurgents as supporters of Saddam, but the former dictator was clearly irrelevant. There were probably foreign fighters there, too, but in such small numbers as to be militarily insignificant. The fighters were connected to one another by clan; their only political representation was the Association of Muslim Clerics, a Sunni party that had been formed during the summer. This was a tribal uprising, controlled by religious leaders.

As we left the city, a family in a car ahead of us was killed by tank fire. At the resistance lines, cars were driving like mad back into the city, honking. From open windows, passengers screamed that the American tanks were approaching. A young fighter with a Kalashnikov yelled, in reply, "Ahlan bik"— welcome.

* * *

I first visited the tribes of the Sunni Triangle at the end of March 2003, just days before the Marines rolled into Baghdad. When a family I had met before the war offered to smuggle me out to the countryside, it seemed worth the risk. It would be a break, at least, from the guided tours of hospitals and bombed telephone exchanges and from the paranoid boarding-school atmosphere of the Palestine Hotel, where the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi secret police, patrolled the halls.

A Western-style highway, with its familiar guardrails and blue-and-green signs in English and Arabic, took us out across a rock-filled wasteland of desert. Gray-brown sand blew across the road like dirty snow. Oil fires, burning in long trenches by the side of the highway, sent deep black clouds into the air. No one could figure out the point of this, but it looked dramatic on television, as if a set decorator had been told to make the place look doomed. Iraqi soldiers wearing old green coats hid with their tanks under overpasses or camped out in the tree-lined median pitted with foxholes, in a vain attempt to survive the nightly laser-guided Armageddon.

After 50 kilometers, a dozen minarets appeared as the highway merged with the main boulevard of Fallujah. We crossed the river and drove west, along the southern boundary of the Sunni Triangle—an isosceles-shaped area covering, roughly, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers up from Baghdad, on the southern apex, to Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit in the north and to Ramadi in the west. As we drove west out of Fallujah, the highway separated two landscapes. On our left, past sandstone bluffs, the western desert stretched 400 kilometers to the Jordanian border. On our right, muddy irrigated farmland, flat as a billiard table, ended sharply at groves of date palms and eucalyptus. Obscured behind the trees, the Euphrates River wends south from its headwaters in Turkey, through Syria, and, finally, links up with the Tigris River in southern Iraq, where, according to the guidebooks, Adam took the apple from Eve. We drove through a few small, dusty towns like Khaldiyah, where merchants and hustlers denied their Bedouin past and threw up square, pillared stone houses with ornate facades. The more cosmopolitan among them added a pagoda or a Crusader castle's keep to the roof. One saw the same style in Baghdad, a nouveau riche school of architecture I came to call Baath Party Babylonian.

Turning off the highway toward the river, we traveled past long, narrow fields and green-domed mosques, as bored boys sat on the embankment watching their sheep graze. At a checkpoint, militiamen in head scarves recognized our driver and waved us through. Two women in bright dresses, their faces wrapped in scarves, carried shovels as they led a cow down a dirt track. The village itself was hidden under a spiked canopy of date palms, their rough trunks curving upward between the houses, which were separated by gardens and cinder-block walls or dried, brown palm-frond fences. We parked in the grass courtyard of a walled house. Our host, the village Sheikh, greeted us and led us into the diwan, the long traditional living room, where men sat on cushions along the walls eating smoked river carp, mazgouf, from large platters. It was my first experience of male Iraqi tribal life, with its formal elegance. In Baghdad the dress code before the war had been suits; even the Mukhabarat had showed up for work in Syrian-made Italian knockoffs. Here, the men wore impossibly white, nightshirtlike dishadashas, with imameh—gauzy white head scarves—or the red-and-white houndstooth kaffiyeh. Every man had a mustache, and most had prominent, well-fed bellies that hung over their crossed legs.

The women disappeared, and the young boys of the family became the household servants. They carried in immense, round aluminum trays of food and laid it on long plastic sheets, which they had rolled out across the floor beforehand like tablecloths in a Chinese restaurant. After the meal they rolled up the sheets, carried out the plates, and returned with strong, dark tea in slender tulip-shaped glasses. With each new arrival the men stood, as the newcomer went around the room shaking hands. When the men sat down there was another greeting—Allah bil Kheir, God in goodness—said with the right arm slightly raised and a forward motion of the body, as if one were about to stand.

After dinner, packs of stray dogs began barking in distress. Soon we, too, heard the B-52 bombers, a rumbling so deep they could have been slowly opening an abyss in the night sky. We went out onto the road and watched the flashes over the Habbiniya air base, which were followed by the thunder of missiles. Behind us, the windows of the house shook and the door blew open.

* * *

I returned to the village that May, when Baghdad was in chaos. As I drove out along the highway, the entire city seemed to be leaving with me. Trucks carried stacks of rebar that dragged along the road; air conditioners and toilets were tied to the tops of old Volkswagen Passat taxis. By the sides of roads, families sold rice and sugar looted from government storerooms, along with Iraqi national soccer uniforms stolen from Uday's Olympic Committee. This was what became known in Iraq as Hawasim, a word that means "final" or "ending." Saddam had called this war the Harb Al Hawasim, the Final War, and Iraqis immediately renamed looted goods in Iraq Hawasim.

The countryside was calm, as if there had never been a war at all. We spent our afternoons with the village boys swimming in the Euphrates, drifting past the reeds in the strong current and walking back up the mud bank. When Kael, the photographer I worked with during the war, put on a blue dishadasha and waded in, village boys crowded the opposite bank yelling, almost rioting, and inviting us for a dinner. They thought she and I were American soldiers, and they loved the spectacle. Later, the Sheikh, who is in his late twenties, looked at me sternly and said: "Never do that again." It seemed that I had broken some ancient tribal code. And then he added: "Unless I am there." He hated to miss seeing a woman swimming in the Tigris. It was an idyllic visit, during which there seemed to be a palpable sense of relief, if not of liberation.

This sense did not last long. By the time I returned in mid-August, the resistance in the area was attacking every few days. It became clear, from the talk of the men who dropped by the house at night, that many in the village supported the attacks. This is not what I had been reading in the newspapers outside Iraq, where the resistance had been characterized as an unpopular and isolated gang of criminals, remnants of the Baath regime, and foreign Islamic fighters.

I asked the Sheikh whether he knew any of the insurgents. Maybe, he said. A few evenings later the boys of the house carried white plastic chairs onto the grass in the courtyard, and we sat under the date palms, the yellow fruit hanging in clusters from the base of the branches.

Mohammed and Abu Ali arrived and greeted the Sheikh and a few others. They were offered glasses of water, which they drained in one gulp, a Bedouin custom that makes sense once one has felt the desert heat. Then came the glasses of hot, sweet tea, one after another, like rounds in an Irish pub. I did not remember the two men from our dinner during the war, but they remembered me. Mohammed, his face shining in the heat, was dressed in a checkered shirt, running shoes, and paint-stained khakis, and his kaffiyeh was casually wrapped in a loose turban—the Iraqi version of wearing one's baseball cap backwards. He is in his late thirties and has a beard. One can tell much about Iraqi men by their facial hair. Mustaches are almost universal and are untouchable, a locus of honor like a woman's virginity; if you want to insult an Iraqi, threaten his mustache. Mohammed's beard was shorter than the full beard of the strictly religious. It seemed to be something of a compromise.

It was clear that everyone liked Mohammed. (Unlike Abu Ali, whose name means "father of Ali" and is quite common in Iraq, Mohammed's real name is somewhat distinctive, and so he insisted I refer to him by this pseudonym.) He was treated with a warmth and respect different from that accorded the other guests. Married but childless, he was a kid magnet. Almost as soon as he sat down, the Sheikh's eleven-year-old brother climbed up on Mohammed's lap and stayed there most of the evening. Mohammed's English is awkward but articulate. It was his favorite class at school, he said, because "it gave me a wide view of the world." Despite his reputation in the village for piety, he was curious rather than self-righteous. He followed almost every statement with the expression "Isn't that right?" a translation of the Arabic word mouhichi, as in: "Bush said this was a crusade, isn't that right?" or, "Bush said the war is over, but it is not, isn't that right?"

* * *

After the looting of Baghdad, Mohammed had concluded that the Americans were not interested in helping Iraqis. He believed that the reconstruction was being carried out with money from the frozen accounts and oil revenues of Iraqis. In May he and a dozen others had gotten together and sworn allegiance to God and Iraq. They told me that six people in the immediate area had been killed fighting the Americans, all of them in a shaheed—martyr—attack on a nearby base.

"The freedom of this country is now a civilian responsibility," Mohammed said. "In this region, each one protects his own house."

Abu Ali is older, in his mid-forties, and wore a dishadasha. He was friendly but wary, sizing me up. At first, I didn't realize that he and Mohammed were in the resistance. I had expected to be taken to some undisclosed location where paranoid men, their faces hidden behind scarves, would deliver a ten-minute rant against Zionism and the infidels before driving off in Toyota pickups. I didn't anticipate the endless glasses of tea, or Mohammed, with a child sleeping on his lap, telling me that he didn't think Osama bin Laden was a good Muslim.

Later, I asked the Sheikh how I was supposed to believe that Mohammed was in the resistance. Of course, it would have been stupid for Mohammed to say he was in the resistance if he wasn't. A raid meant the possibility of someone in one's family being killed, followed by months baking in the sun in a makeshift prison, perhaps one of Saddam's former tennis courts. But U.S. military intelligence had experienced enormous difficulty recruiting informers after the war, despite having offered $2,500, almost a year's salary in a country with no employment. It did seem strange that a freelance journalist would happen across the resistance in someone's garden.

It was a matter of trust, the Sheikh explained. They were family and neighbors, and in this small-village world people knew what was happening even if they didn't talk about it. The Sheikh was vouching for me, and he was also vouching for Mohammed.

"Two or three times Mohammed came to see me after an operation. I didn't ask the details, but the next day I heard about what happened in the operation from others," the Sheikh said later. "A friend of Mohammed's in the resistance was very angry that he was talking to you, but Mohammed doesn't care. They were worried that U.S. Mukhabarat"—intelligence—"would pressure you. Mohammed is taking a big risk, but he trusts you. And I am taking responsibility, too."

And then he quoted an Arabic expression that went something like this: Either I live and make my friends feel happy, or I die and make my enemies feel bad.

* * *

A few weeks after I met Mohammed, I moved into an apartment in Ramadi. Bombs exploded almost every day, and the U.S. troops were tense. Early one morning, after a loud explosion, I rushed to a road that the soldiers call "ambush alley." A Humvee had just been destroyed there by an improvised explosive device, or IED. One of the soldiers threatened to shoot us if we came any closer. I interviewed a man who had been held on the road and only just released by the American soldiers. When I met Mohammed a few days later, he knew all about my visit and said that I had inadvertently interviewed the man who had set the bomb—as had the American soldiers.

The occupation hadn't gone well in Fallujah almost from the beginning. Eighteen people were killed in late April while demonstrating against the U.S. presence. The 82nd Airborne, a hard-core combat unit, has made several tours of duty in the area, and once the resistance started they hit back hard. When the 82nd returned to Fallujah in September, there was another spike in the number of civilian dead. According to the main hospital, at least forty civilians and police were killed and sixty to seventy wounded in the area around Fallujah during the first six months of the occupation. (Although the U.S. Army, as an occupying force, is legally responsible for the civilian population, it has declined to release the numbers of Iraqis it has killed, making those statistics open to dispute.) During one week in September, a fourteen-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl were killed, and at least four children were sent to the hospital with bullet or shrapnel wounds.

Mohammed's reasons for joining the resistance were mixed. It was partly because of the civilians being killed, partly because he believed that the Koran required Muslims to fight non-Muslim occupiers. He worried that the Americans would hand power over to the Shia majority, who had suffered far more under the last regime than had the Sunnis and who would, he feared, take revenge. He said that like most "good Muslims" he hated Saddam, but he doubted that the United States had come to liberate Iraq. It had been a strategic war, he thought, designed to threaten Syria and Iran and to protect Israel. In the end, his opposition had much to do with the simple idea of occupation: he just didn't like seeing foreign soldiers on his land. He was a bit of a Texan that way.

He said things like: "When we see the U.S. soldiers in our cities with guns, it is a challenge to us. America wants to show its power, to be a cowboy. . . . Bush wants to win the next election—that is why he is lying to the American people saying that the resistance is Al Qaeda. . . . I don't know a lot about political relations in the world, but if you look at history—Vietnam, Iraq itself, Egypt, and Algeria—countries always rebel against occupation. . . . The world must know that this is an honorable resistance and has nothing to do with the old regime. Even if Saddam Hussein dies we will continue to fight to throw out the American forces. We take our power from our history, not from one person."

But often he'd tell me to put away my notebook, and then would ask how much did it cost to live in Canada, how much were hotels and restaurants. He and his wife had problems conceiving a child—how much were operations?

That first night, as we talked under the palm trees, explosions could be heard nearby: mortars landing on American bases.

"Would you like to go with us tonight?" he asked. "You are not afraid, isn't that right?"

Mohammed's group was preparing to blow up a train full of military equipment, and was waiting for the signal from an informer who worked with the Americans. As it turned out, the signal wouldn't come for another ten weeks, and I caught the aftermath on CNN. Crowds of men and boys were laughing and cheering and grabbing everything they could. It looked like a classic ghazu, the raid for booty that tribes have carried out on the Arabian peninsula since pre-Islamic times. Even Lawrence of Arabia led attacks like these—against the Turkish railway lines that ran across this desert during the First World War—but he didn't get so many computers.

* * *

A minority in Iraq, the Sunni Islamic sect has controlled the country for centuries: from the time of the Ottoman Empire, through the British conquest during the First World War, through the monarchy, right up to and including Saddam. Unlike the Shia majority in the south, many of the Sunni were none too keen on being "liberated," especially those in the tribal areas west of Baghdad. The Sunni tend to view the Shia in much the way that Protestants view Catholics in Ireland—as a deceitful people controlled by their religious leaders, who in turn are part of a papal-like conspiracy run from Iran. They call the Shia Shrugi, from the Arabic word for "Eastern"—a derogative term similar to the Serbs' epithet Shiptar for the Kosovar Albanians.

When I interviewed Lieutenant Colonel Alan King, the officer in charge of relations between tribal sheikhs and the U.S. Army—newspaper articles about him have headlines like "Alan of Arabia"—he pointed out that the tribal structure of these areas has for centuries been one way that Iraqis have dealt with foreign invaders. "This area has been occupied since 579 b.c., and the tribes have had to rally among their families and around their tribes in order to survive the various occupations, whether it's the Ottomans, the British, the Greeks, the Mongols, the Persians," Colonel King said. "The tribal system was an important part of that survival. The tribes came up with a tribal law to be able to work among each other through the occupation, so that their family members didn't fall to the occupiers' law."

In the late 1950s, before the Baathists took power, the traditional social structure run by the tribal sheikhs was partially dismantled by land reforms that reduced the sheikhs' wealth and, with it, their authority. Saddam further undermined traditional culture through more land reforms and, at the same time, began a major building program in Ramadi and Fallujah, constructing military bases and airports and hiring locals as small contractors. Money poured into the region. Earth moving and transport are to the tribesmen what construction and garbage removal are to some Italian communities in New York. At the same time, large numbers of the almost entirely Sunni population were being recruited into the army, the Baath Party, and the intelligence services.

When the White House and the U.S. Army needed someone to blame for the postwar failure in Iraq, these Sunnis were quickly labeled Baathists, criminals, and "regime dead enders." Western journalists, ignorant of Iraqi history and for the most part unable to speak Arabic, quickly adopted these simplistic assumptions. But the people of Ramadi and Fallujah had not been part of what was called, before the war, "the royal family"—the residents of Saddam's hometown, Tikrit (or, more specifically, his ancestral village, Al Ouja), who had retained almost feudal powers. The rest of the Sunni Triangle was by no means universally pro-Saddam. In fact, a number of the coup attempts against Saddam are believed to have originated here, because its natives held such prominence in the army.

There is a contradiction in the way that the people in Fallujah and Ramadi are presented by the U.S. Army and the occupation administration, as well as by the media. On the one hand, all the residents are said to be rabid Saddam supporters—a characterization that justifies pretty much any action against them, including killing their families. On the other hand, the resistance is said to be supported by only a handful of people. This inconsistency has not been so visible from a distance, in part because most of the public statements in Iraq have been issued with the American, not the Iraqi, public in mind.

On the ground, though, these mistaken assumptions have led to catastrophic missteps. All the civilian deaths would have caused a population anywhere to react: on Bloody Sunday in 1972, for example, only thirteen Irish Catholics were killed by British troops, but the incident set off decades of fighting. In the Sunni Triangle, an honor-based tribal society where revenge killings are integral to the culture, the cycle, once started, was almost impossible to stop. And it was only when the occupation was presented as a binary choice—you are either with us or against us—that the Sunni circled the wagons.

* * *

Mohammed and Abu Ali dropped by the Sheikh's one day, and we sat and talked at the far end of the diwan. Abu Ali was carrying photocopied maps of the Habbaniya air base that, he said, would be used to position mortar attacks. A girl pushed a small child into the room and disappeared. The child crawled toward Mohammed.

Mohammed took out a pen and drew, in my notebook, a map of the highways around Ramadi and Fallujah. He marked Xs at various places, perhaps fifteen of them, where he had participated in "operations," but then he scratched out his drawing. He was worried, he said, that I would be captured, tortured, and forced to give up his group.

One operation had stuck in his mind, though—the one in which they had been helped by an angel, just like in a battle mentioned in the Koran, when the Prophet Mohammed and 300 fighters had beaten a thousand of their enemy. Trained, like Abu Ali, as an engineer, Mohammed had wired together two 48-kilogram artillery shells looted from an ammunition dump.

"We placed the shells twenty meters apart, and when two Humvees drove by we blew up both of them," he told me. "When the Americans came to take them away, we hid for half an hour. But we did not notice their soldiers disappearing into the grass. When we packed up our weapons and climbed out of the ditch, the Americans started shooting at us. But we escaped, and only one was a little wounded."

Only an angel could have saved them, he said. This had been during the summer, a few months after they had started their group. They were professionals and tradesmen, Mohammed said, who had been trained by former Iraqi army officers. The cell was primarily made up of men from Mohammed and Abu Ali's own tribe, the Duleimi, who dominate Ramadi and Fallujah.

"The Sunni Triangle is made up of large clans," Mohammed explained as, in the background, an Arabic channel played a documentary on Henry Kissinger and the Vietnam War. "Everybody in a clan knows everybody else. I only trust the people I know very well. If someone comes from another tribe, I don't trust him until I get to know him."

By July their group had contacted two or three others in the area, and one of their members stayed in touch with more cells in the north and the south of the country. As time went on, the groups made closer and closer connections. They worked in each other's neighborhoods, not their own, in order to protect their families.

The resistance was like a root fire, burning invisibly underground, waiting to explode. Village-based partisans were only one species of fighter; others included foreign jihadis, supporters of Saddam Hussein, unemployed army and secret-service personnel, and the specially trained suicide fighters of the Saddam Fedayeen, who had done most of the fighting during the war. As time went on, these underground elements linked up, their tangle of motives united under the banner: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

* * *

One afternoon in the fall, Mohammed drove me up to a sandstone bluff overlooking the highway at the edge of the western desert, a badlands of rock and wind-sculpted hard sand. Simple stone markers stuck out of mounds in the nearby hilltop cemetery. Cement tombs of those killed in the Iran-Iraq war were painted in the green, black, white, and red of the Iraqi flag, but the colors had faded under the intense sun. His younger brother, who had died in a car crash the year before, was buried there.

"He was very intelligent," Mohammed said, looking at the graves. "He was a beautiful man."

As we walked to the edge of the bluff overlooking the road, two Black Hawks flew low over the palm groves that rose above the farmland, an oasis stretching out from the meandering Euphrates River. It didn't look like Iraq was supposed to—it looked more like Southeast Asia, like one of the scenes Francis Ford Coppola put back into Apocalypse Now Redux. From the cover of these date groves, Mohammed and his group were planning to shoot down helicopters.

"If I were doing an attack," he said, pointing at the Black Hawks, which now droned over the highway, "I would hit the second one."

Mohammed's group had stockpiled Russian-made SAM-7 Strela anti-aircraft missiles, which had come from the Habbaniya air base a few kilometers down the bluffs. We could see a tank there, parked under a guard tower. Before U.S. forces took over Habbaniya, they had watched as Mohammed and other Iraqis looted the ammunition.

"The Americans are so stupid—they almost gave us the weapons," he said. "They thought we were thieves. They watched us taking RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] and other weapons and said, "Are you Ali Baba?'" This was what the G.I.'s called thieves and looters. "We said yes, so they let us in. They thought we were destroying the Iraqi army."

Hundreds of ammunition dumps around the country are still unguarded, providing the resistance with decades' worth of supplies, mostly old artillery shells. Iraq is a virtual Wal-Mart for Soviet munitions and explosives. If resistance fighters run out of Strelas they can, according to Mohammed, buy more on the black market for $325 from the tribes in the south. Nor is there any shortage of funding. A wealthy Sunni in Baghdad told me that some of the groups are being funded by businessmen he knew. They are outraged by the new foreign-investment laws, which allow foreign companies to buy up factories for very little. Their revenues have collapsed, because the country has been flooded with foreign goods, and the increased wages now paid to the public sector are agitating their own, poorly paid workers. The violence, these businessmen realize, is their only competitive edge. It is simple business logic: the more problems there are in Iraq, the harder it is for outsiders to get involved.

Mohammed pointed out another base, a former British military airport built in the 1920s. It, too, was a target. Beside the base were the houses of a village still known as Coolie Camp, built for Indian workers brought in by the British. From where we stood, he counted five targets that the resistance was planning to attack.

"Did you see Braveheart?" he asked me. "They throw out the British and the corrupt nobles. It is about hope. The people in the movie want freedom, and so do we. In the movie, the problems start because the British invaded and take the beautiful women and hurt the people. Because of the hard times, they gather weapons and get rid of the spies and traitors, isn't that right?"

Mel Gibson's movie had struck a chord with Mohammed on a number of levels. Not only did his own grandfather fight against the British but, like the Scottish nobles in Braveheart, many of the area's important sheikhs worked with the British occupiers. (The same families, Mohammed said, were now working with the Americans.) Mohammed referred to Western culture and history as frequently as he did to the Koran. At times he sounded like a seventies European student radical, someone who might have joined the Red Brigade.

"We think of Vietnam and look at the modern history of the United States, which is not very good," he said. "Why do they call us the Third World? Why do they look down on us? . . . Justice is the basis of ruling, and Saddam forgot this. We expect the fall of the American empire, because they do not follow justice in the world."

Until American soldiers stopped interacting with Iraqis on the streets of Fallujah and Ramadi, Mohammed would stop and talk to them. In part, he did this to check out their weapons, but he was curious too. One soldier showed him a picture of his family and said: "I miss them so much. I want to leave your country right now, but my government won't let me." Once, to a black soldier guarding a tank, he said, "Hey, Negro." After the man became angry, Mohammed explained to him that it was what he thought white men called blacks in the movies.

"I wanted him to feel that it was not his fault—it is the white man," Mohammed told me. "I wanted him to think about his African roots."

* * *

The intense heat lasted into the fall. One night, after Mohammed invited me to sleep at his house, he dragged some cots into his garden, where it was somewhat cooler. Occasionally a helicopter flew overhead, and mortars could be heard landing on the bases. Death was on his mind, as was sex. He talked about the virgins that we hear so much about in the West, who wait in heaven for the shaheed. "Their bodies," he said, "are made of light." He went on to detail a complicated Armageddon in which Christians, Jews, and Muslims unite to fight an enemy but wind up fighting among themselves. It would happen in 2023 and would end with the bodies of good people rising to heaven. The more he talked, the more he seemed like someone who might be invited to give a prayer breakfast at the White House, where he could have delivered a sermon against gay marriage.

Mohammed said he was looking for a second wife but that this was proving difficult.

"A man needs sex, isn't that right," he said. A dog barked in the distance. "That's a fox."

Conversations about sex in the diwan often resemble dialogue from Sex in the City. The men want details, a lot more than I wanted to volunteer. In Iraq sex has not been processed, as it has been in the West, by television and pop psychology. It remains a mysterious, dark continent, and travelers share their stories as much for information as for pleasure. In Ramadi and Fallujah, where talking to a fellow female university student can end in marriage, Western sex lives seem like stories Captain Cook brought back from the South Seas. "You look like a clever boy," the Sheikh said shortly after we met. "What age did you lose your virginity?" Another man in the diwan asked me, "When you are with a woman, do you have anal sex?" and then launched into a description of the anal sex he'd had with his doctor's secretary that very afternoon. Preserving an unmarried woman's virginity is a priority, and so young partners often will rub their genitals together but avoid penetration. They call it "brushing," or "scratching."

A woman's virginity is a family possession, guarded like a bank vault. In Ramadi and Fallujah brothers and male cousins traditionally do not attend a woman's wedding, because it is too humiliating to see her literally possessed by another man. To men with such an ethos, Western sexual practices often seem bizarre or hypocritical rather than enviable. The Sheikh once asked me, "If you don't care if a woman has sex with another man before you marry her, why do you care if she does it after you marry her?"

The only topic of conversation more popular than sex is God. Once, while the men in the diwan were asking me about "friendships" in the West, we were interrupted by the local imam, who was arriving for dinner, the usual roast chicken and pickles. Young and eunuchlike, the imam reminded me of a country parson, which, in a way, he was. After the young men had carried away the long plastic floor covering and the food, he sat on the floor. Did Islam truly demand resistance to the occupiers? I asked him. He confirmed that it did, and then invited me to become a Muslim. His own sales pitch was soon drowned out by those of the other men, whose enthusiasm for the Koran was overwhelming. I will convince you there is a God, exclaimed the Sheikh, or you will convince me he does not exist, or we will not sleep. Later, the imam brought me a photocopied pamphlet entitled "General Information on Islam," as well as "How I Came to Islam," an article by Cat Stevens.

In a deeply religious country, the Duleimi are particularly so. During the massive military building programs of the 1980s, minarets sprang up everywhere in the region, I was told, as residents longed "to atone for their sins of working with the regime." After a few visits, I came to think of the area as the Koran Belt. The Duleimi have a reputation for being tough, simple country folk, and Duleimis themselves will often say, proudly, that they are a bit crazy. I worked with a young Duleimi translator from Baghdad, and whenever he acted aggressively without thinking, our Shia driver would turn to me, mouth the word "Duleimi," and giggle. He might as well have been saying "hillbilly."

In Baghdad they tell jokes about the Duleimi that remind me of Polish jokes I heard as a kid. Here's one: An American soldier and a newly trained Duleimi policeman are out on patrol one night. "The curfew starts at eleven o'clock," the soldier explains. "Hold your fire till then, but after that it's open season." A man walks by at 10:15, and the Duleimi shoots him dead. The soldier turns on him, stunned. The Duleimi says, proudly: "I know that guy—it'll take an hour for him to get home."

* * *

In late September, I met Abu Ali in a crowd of men near a burning transport truck. Hampered by a flat tire, the truck had been abandoned to the locals, who had thrown a grenade into the cab and then torched it. Abu Ali was carrying a video camera, which he had been using to film an "operation" on the highway from behind some trees. That night, he told us about an eight-hour firefight that had recently taken place in an area called Al Jazeera, or "The Island." He offered to take us to see what had happened. The next morning we found the area still sealed by American tanks, but when we came back a few hours later the Army had vanished. At a bend in the narrow road, thick bushes, fruit trees, and tall grasses blocked a view of date-palm groves a few hundred yards away.

"This place is very good for attacks," said Abu Ali. It was something of an understatement. The place made one think: ambush. It was the guerrilla equivalent of a hunting blind. "Groups come from all over to make operations here."

Five large holes perforated the dirt at the edge of the asphalt. Wires from burnt tires spooled off the road from patches of black dust. Abu Ali walked over to some newly covered holes. In the past few weeks, he said, there had been three "operations" here. Only later were we told that new IEDs had already been reburied in the holes, awaiting the next patrol.

We drove back up the road to a large compound, where three houses were set back a few hundred yards from the road. During the last attack at the bend in the road, four IEDs had exploded and RPGs had been fired at a convoy. Near one of the houses a firefight had broken out between soldiers and the resistance. Where the palm trees had been grazed by bullets, small tufts of reddish bark hair poured out of the knobby trunks. A tank shell had knocked through a balcony, taken out part of a doorframe, and then destroyed the entire wall behind. Heavy-caliber bulletholes arced across the walls that faced the road. At our feet, a telephone cable had been cut, its bright red and white wires lying unsheathed in the dirt.

Abu Ali warned us the family was angry, and joked that I might need him for protection. Two men in the family had been arrested and were being held in Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad. A crowd of men came out of the house wearing white dishadashas and looked at us, unimpressed. They were wealthy farmers who owned large fields of richly irrigated land, and they were very ****ed off.

"Journalists come here, write their stories, and then go back to Baghdad and drink," said one of the farmers, quite accurately. "Before and now, we hate Americans. And then they do this and we hate them more. Do you know any Iraqis who like the Americans?" I said I did.

"They are faggots," he said in Arabic as we walked through the dust to look at a crater in a field. "In the Arabic tradition, when they do this to your house, you take ten of their women."

The Army had been back that morning searching for weapons, he said. The soldiers had been polite but had not offered any compensation. As we got in the car to leave, the men offered to show us a video of "operations" in the area. On the way back to the village, I asked Abu Ali if he thought the resistance could beat the Americans. "We don't know what the result of this will be," he said.

Mohammed had told me that Ramadan, the traditional month-long fast commemorating the revelation of the Koran, would be a bad month. It turned out to be the worst month since the invasion. In Fallujah alone during the first two weeks of November, nearly twenty U.S. soldiers were killed, most of them when a Chinook was shot down with a Strela south of the city. F-16s dropped 500-pound bombs in the area for the first time since the end of the war. During the fall, attacks on U.S. soldiers had climbed steadily in Al Anbar province, which stretches west from Fallujah to the Jordanian and Syrian borders, at one point reaching roughly fifty per day. In mid-November the Army tried to engage the insurgents, in an aggressive campaign it called Iron Hammer.

I spent the first day of Ramadan with Mohammed. We shopped for refrigerators for his dead brother's family in Ramadi, settling on a cheap Iranian model made by a company called General Steel. By the afternoon the calorie deficit had made us dozy, and we lounged around his unfinished diwan. The walls were unpainted, and wires hung out where sockets should have been. I passed out for a while and awoke to find him translating pages from what looked like a military magazine, outlining the specs of Black Hawk and Apache helicopters. He had his dictionary out.

"What is boron?" he wanted to know. It wasn't in the dictionary, and I didn't have a clue. This was not something I wanted to get involved in, and I told him so. He passed me the pages on the Hughes AH-64 Apache, with Arabic scribbled in the margin.

"Easily the most expensive helicopter ever ordered for use over the battlefield, the AH-64 has been made "survivable' as possible, though this does not extend to protection against missiles such as are now carried even by infantry." The helicopter was set to come into production in December 1983, which made the magazine more than twenty years old. The boron seemed to have something to do with the canopy.

"What does "survivable' mean?" he asked.

We sat outside in the failing light waiting for Iftar, the meal that ends the fast, which usually consists of chicken soup and a cardamom-flavored custard. Mohammed's mother, dressed in black with circular blue tattoos on her face and hands, approached us. She said something in a deep, raspy, Marlene Dietrich‒like voice. Mohammed called her Hajia, a common term of respect for older women.

"My mother says that she just wants a cigarette and a glass of cold water."

After the meal, we sat outside again on the benches as neighbors dropped by. Most of the talk was about the contracts to rebuild Iraq, and about a helicopter that had been shot down with an RPG the day before in Tikrit. Abu Ali said he thought that if the U.N. came to Iraq the resistance would stop, "because they will give a date when they will leave." Before he went to bed, Abu Ali told me that some kind of "operation" would happen the next day. He didn't say where.

The next morning, as I was getting ready to return to Baghdad, there was an explosion in the distance. The highway was blocked by hundreds of cars. I stood in the crowd and watched two Medevac helicopters land and take off again, filling the air with dust. In the distance, what looked like a Humvee was surrounded by soldiers. Two soldiers walked into the crowd, pointing their guns at a car.

"Get the **** out of the car. Now! I don't care if you're the ****ing president."

They let an ambulance through and then restored some order. "Hey Johnson, no more ambulances," one of the soldiers said. He turned to the Iraqis. "You might as well turn off your cars. No one is going anywhere."

The soldiers didn't have a translator with them. No one seemed to understand what they said until they pointed their guns. It was like someone yelling in Arabic at commuters in a New York traffic jam. What a strange feeling, I thought, to be on the wrong side of the American Army, which brings too much firepower to almost every situation. It reminded me of something I had heard from a friend who had gone to work in Hollywood for a while: the production values are incredible but the script sucks.

Men and women watched nervously as the two soldiers went through the line of cars. And then the shooting began: the low, rapid thud of a .50 caliber. The soldiers ran back to the protection of their Humvees. From the top of one of them, a gunner fired bursts at a patch of long grass across the river, 200 yards away. The other Humvee's machine gun opened up, and people began running off the road. Some hid behind a cinder-block wall. Tractor-trailers and cars tried to turn around and drive away. I learned later that an IED had exploded down the road and the soldiers had begun shooting at passing cars.

A man was killed driving in the other direction. The Army said that he had been killed by the bomb. When I came back from Baghdad a few days later, I spoke with people who had been by the side of the road; they were certain it had been the soldiers. The day before, six people had been killed just outside Fallujah the same way. The next week the Chinook was shot down, killing sixteen soldiers headed home for R and R.

It reminded me of something the Sheikh had told me weeks earlier. "We are like a man with a razor in his throat," he had said. "We can't spit out the Americans, but we can't swallow them either."

* * *

In November during Eid, a Christmas-like holiday following Ramadan, I dropped by the Sheikh's house. The Sheikh, when I finally tracked him down, kept saying, "Mushkilah, mushkilah": problem, problem. It was raining, and his diwan was cold and damp. The kerosene stove gave off less heat than did the bodies of the local men, who began gathering after dinner for what appeared to be a complicated negotiation. The men in the diwan were trying to settle a feud. The electricity was intermittent and much of the time an old lantern lit the men's faces. One local fisherman had murdered another, and the dead man's brother had in turn killed the murderer. After an hour, they settled on 1 million dinars ($600) to be paid to the dead murderer's family. When it was over some men left and the television was turned back on.

We began watching a talk show on Al Jazeera called The Opposite Direction. It was hosted by Faisal Al Qassim, who, in his self-important nerdiness, reminded me of CNN's Aaron Brown. One of the guests was Entifadh Qanbar, a spokesman for the formerly exiled leader Ahmad Chalabi, the most pro-American—and arguably least popular, less even than Saddam Hussein—of Iraqi politicians. Qanbar was arguing with another man, Fadil Al Rubaia. The subject of the show was "Do You Support the Resistance?" and occasionally a phone number appeared on the screen for viewers to call in.

As the show began, Abu Ali came into the diwan and sat down beside me. We talked a bit, and he began to write a letter that he said he wanted me to give to Al Jazeera. The men in the room were jeering at Qanbar, who came across as slick and a little shifty. Not only was Qanbar defending the U.S. occupation; his Arabic, like that of many returned exiles, wasn't fluent. When he confused the word for "roots" with the word for "tomorrow" there was smug laughter in the diwan. Al Rubaia, who was pro-resistance, was balding and pompous and reminded me of the typical Baath Party apparatchiks who dominated the lives of journalists before and during the war. It seemed typical of Iraq that one couldn't trust the man on either side of the argument.

During the show a graph occasionally flashed across the screen showing that 90 percent of callers supported the anti-American resistance. This meant (at the time) that mostly Sunni Arabs were calling in. Mohammed came over and sat down between Abu Ali and me. He saw Abu Ali's note and, typically, began to correct the grammar. Arabic is difficult to write, even for native speakers, and Mohammed can be something of a pedant.

"Do you have your phone?" Mohammed asked. "We should call Al Jazeera."

Thuraya satellite telephones are easy to trace, and this area was what newspapers call a "resistance stronghold." But it seemed rude to say no, so we went outside and Mohammed dialed the number in Qatar. I could hear something in Arabic and Mohammed pressed one of the numbers. I asked him what Al Jazeera had said.

"The message said, "Press one if you support the resistance.'"

Later that evening, Abu Ali told me that something was going to happen the next day. I didn't ask any details, and I doubt he would have given them. The next morning before I left, I could hear heavy machine-gun fire, probably American, coming from the adjacent town.

During one of the first warm nights this spring, Abu Ali, the Sheikh, and I sat outside on carpets in the garden. The wind, humid and aromatic, blew through the eucalyptus trees between the Sheikh's house and the Euphrates River a few hundred yards away. In December, Mohammed had been arrested by American soldiers. After a bomb exploded, he had argued with some of the soldiers, and eventually they had thrown him in the back of a Bradley. Apparently they didn't know he was in the resistance; they probably just got sick of his stubborn, anti-American views.

I told Abu Ali that I was relieved Mohammed had been arrested. I had always had the impression that he wanted to become a shaheed and kill himself in an anti-American attack. Abu Ali agreed.

"When we attacked the Americans, Mohammed would push himself very hard. He wanted to be a shaheed. I would tell him to stand there and go no further." Abu Ali laughed. "Yes, he wanted to be a shaheed. I didn't have that problem—maybe because I used to drink beer." He wasn't nearly as strict a Muslim as Mohammed, but he did add: "When they become shaheed, it is a beautiful smell and their color stays fresh. And friends see this and they want to die." (This was a common belief, even among doctors at the hospital in Fallujah.)

Abu Ali was relaxed and more friendly than I remembered ever having seen him. He had taken some time off from the resistance to do some contract work for the occupation. He needed some of the money to take care of his son, Ali, but the rest was going to run the resistance group—i.e., the American taxpayer was funding both sides of the conflict. After a few more glasses of tea, the Sheikh said it was time to leave. He, too, was on the run: explosives had been found buried on land he owned, though he swore he had not been involved in any "operations."

Before we left, Abu Ali explained that his group had switched tactics. Now it was attacking American bases with rockets and mortars, rather than laying IEDs on the road or firing rocket-propelled grenades. I thought of this a few days later, when I heard that two U.S. Marines had been killed by a rocket attack on a nearby base.

"This is nothing like the 1920s rebellion," Abu Ali said before he left. "It is much bigger."

A few weeks later, almost one year after the war began, I went to a ceremony marking the handover of control for Al Anbar from the 82nd Airborne to the Marine Expeditionary Force. There was a Marine band, and regimental colors were unfurled. The Marines are polite, clean-cut; they want to be liked. The 82nd, in comparison, seem like cowboys. I assumed things would get better. Even the Sheikh thought so. When I met him a few days before the official handover, he said, of the Marines, "They knock on doors instead of kicking them down."

As General Charles H. Swannack of the 82nd walked toward the crowd at the outdoor ceremony, I'm pretty sure I saw him spitting tobacco. About six weeks earlier, after a convoy carrying General John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. Central Command, had been attacked in Fallujah, General Swannack was quoted as saying that 95 percent of the people of Fallujah supported the occupation and that the attack represented the views of just a few bad guys. It was a bizarre statement, and he must have known that he was lying. The Marine general, Lieutenant General James T. Conway, seemed to be all that General Swannack was not.

"We think we will see the day when we are playing soccer with them," said General Conway. "But it won't be in a few weeks."

Less than two weeks later, four private security guards were attacked in Fallujah and their burned bodies dragged through the streets.

* * *

In April, a few days after the Marines surrounded Fallujah, the Sheikh and his cousins decided to return to the village, and he offered to take me with them. We had made the trip from Baghdad together often. This time the main highway was closed, and so we set off on a roundabout route through the countryside. Two New York Times reporters had been briefly kidnapped there the previous day, but I wasn't especially concerned. Near a town called Al Kharma we saw insurgent fighters, head scarves wrapped across their faces, unloading armfuls of RPGs from the trunk of a car. The Sheikh was elated; he honked and yelled blessings.

In the previous few days the villages around Ramadi and Fallujah had been thrown into chaos. The resistance, until then a clandestine force, had suddenly emerged. After months of humiliation, as the Sheikh saw it, Sunni Iraqis finally were striking back. The men with the RPGs stopped and returned his greeting. Behind us a cloud of smoke rose from a roadside bomb, and American planes left slowly expanding contrails in the sky. A few kilometers away helicopter gunships flew over a stand of palms. We crossed a bridge and turned past a house, beside which was parked a charred white SUV. Later I would see this house again on television, in a pixelated home video, the bodies of two young dead Westerners lying beside the truck's wheels.

Several wrong turns took us out into the desert, through an old Iraqi military base. The Sheikh and his cousins began to worry; they saw that we were being followed. One of them removed his kaffiyeh and put it on my head. It didn't make me look Iraqi at all, but rather like Tintin. We returned to the bridge, where dozens of resistance fighters, most of their faces uncovered, held large Russian machine guns and more RPGs. The cousin took the kaffiyeh off my head.

"Do you want to interview them?" the Sheikh asked. He was very enthusiastic about the idea.

We stopped on the bridge and got out of the car. I pulled out my press I.D., and there was some negotiation. The fighters invited me to come under the bridge. Suddenly a car, the same one that had been following us, crossed onto the bridge and stopped. Men jumped out with guns and surrounded us. We were told to get back into our car and follow them; they drove us to a checkpoint, where some large trucks had been stopped by more than fifty fighters. My I.D. was taken to one of the fighters, as others began to search the car. When they opened the trunk and saw my flak jacket, they began to shout. The Sheikh stood at the car door and yelled, "Duleimi, Duleimi." He listed every important Sheikh he was related to. More men gathered around the car. These men were Al Jumaili, and his tribal relations went only so far with them.

Just as their leader was walking over, a car stopped barely short of hitting us, and the driver yelled for everyone to leave. Americans were attacking the position. After briefly being unable to start our car-a film cliché come unnervingly to life-we drove away at 170 kilometers an hour, past a burning Humvee and another burned-out SUV. As some Marine Humvees approached, we slowed; after they disappeared we veered down a canal. On the far side, another convoy of Americans came down the road. When we looked down our side of the bank, ten resistance fighters were preparing to fire RPGs at them.

An hour later, when we reached the village, the Sheikh and his cousins were nervous. I was no longer a foreign guest but a serious problem. The Sheikh dropped us off at another cousin's house and disappeared, afraid that someone might see him with a Westerner. After a year of visiting the village, everything had suddenly changed. The countryside was now in open rebellion. In nearby Ramadi the resistance had killed twelve Marines in a well-coordinated attack. Men in the village, I was told, had offered to go and fight in Fallujah, but leaders there had told them that they had enough men already.

The next morning I left the village and have not returned since. The Sheikh had been a wonderful host, but I had visited a few too many times.

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#729162 - 04/10/05 03:55 PM Re: A Year with the Iraqi Resistance
Tom--K Offline
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Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
If what you're saying yhabo is that the Iraqi's need another good whacking--you're right.

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#729163 - 04/10/05 04:09 PM Re: A Year with the Iraqi Resistance
markallen Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 460
Loc: Stanwood, WA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Tom--K:
If what you're saying yhabo is that the Iraqi's need another good whacking--you're right. [/b]
Here, Here...
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#729164 - 04/11/05 05:48 AM Re: A Year with the Iraqi Resistance
kathyk Offline
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Registered: 08/19/03
Posts: 6971
Loc: Maine
Very interesting article, Y. I would encourage anyone with half an open mind to read it. The article is from Harper's Magazine. The author, Patrick Graham is from Ireland, and spent over a year in Iraq. Face it - Iraq is an occupied country, and this doesn't sit well with most Iraqis.

On Patrick Graham

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#729165 - 04/11/05 06:13 AM Re: A Year with the Iraqi Resistance
ny1911 Offline
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Registered: 12/04/03
Posts: 2238
Loc: New York
Is there anyway you can post a link to articles instead of the whole article? It makes it easier to BM for later reading.
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#729166 - 04/11/05 06:36 AM Re: A Year with the Iraqi Resistance
Larry Offline
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Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
I know several people who spent over a year in Iraq who aren't blind leftist ideologues, and they tell a different story. A small number don't like it that we're there, and if you go ask them, you get their perspective, just like you get a different perspective on the US when you talk to a brain dead liberal. If you go talk to one of the majority in Iraq, you see a completely opposite picture.

Kathyk and Yapababoon would do well to put their sick leftist ideology aside and look at the bigger picture in Iraq instead of hunting for every leftist propaganda piece they can find. Only an idiot would think a year with the resistance would give them a true picture of anything. If it was 1944, the article could have been "A year with the Nazis - and somehow, I think kathyk and Yapababoon would both have liked the article.
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#729167 - 04/11/05 06:51 AM Re: A Year with the Iraqi Resistance
RZ Offline
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Registered: 12/05/04
Posts: 515
Loc: Anaheim, CA
A fascinating article and one which simply underlines what we already know. It has been clearly documented and shown that Bush and his Administration has bungled this entire thing from the beginning through lack of planning, lack ofunderstanding, and adherence to ideological purity.

At the same time, it would really be nice if the Iraqis would get off their asses and actually contribute something to this endeavor. If they want us out of there, they should work to pick up the pieces, put the damned puzzle together and let us leave.

It took them over 2 months just to decide on the top government officials -- all being done on our dime and with our troops in danger. What the heck was that all about?

I for one am getting very tired of the mess the Iraqis have created and and keep creating. Maybe it is time to let them stew in their own juices of hate, leave and let them have at it. It seems this is what they want anyway.

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#729168 - 04/11/05 08:44 AM Re: A Year with the Iraqi Resistance
reblder Offline
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Registered: 10/21/01
Posts: 1237
Loc: Sherman Oaks, Calif.
And now we see(from the L.A. Times two days ago, front page item)about the grievous waste of American taxpayer funds to help out with the egregiously clumsy mismanagement of the water and sanitation facilities over there.

Just another illustration of the "quagmire" I predicted a few months before our invasion/occupation there.

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#729169 - 04/11/05 09:03 AM Re: A Year with the Iraqi Resistance
Jolly Offline
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Registered: 06/20/01
Posts: 14051
Loc: Louisiana
Quagmire?

Nah, not even close. Even as we speak, the plans for the drawdown are proceding.

And here's what is ironic...as we leave, the resistance which is primarily foreign, with Sunnis thrown in for good measure, are gonna get squeezed like a rat in a vise, when the Kurds and the Shiites get through with them.

They have seen "civilized" warfare, It will be much more of an education to deal with folks who play by 12th century rules....but it will probably be more effective.
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#729170 - 04/11/05 09:26 AM Re: A Year with the Iraqi Resistance
RZ Offline
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Registered: 12/05/04
Posts: 515
Loc: Anaheim, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by reblder:
And now we see(from the L.A. Times two days ago, front page item)about the grievous waste of American taxpayer funds to help out with the egregiously clumsy mismanagement of the water and sanitation facilities over there.

Just another illustration of the "quagmire" I predicted a few months before our invasion/occupation there. [/b]
I read that. Apparently we do all these good things like repairing power, sewage and water plants, and the Iraqi's let them fall into disrepair and unable to function while they are out doing whatever it is Iraqis do -- apparently fight among themselves is what they like to do best.

Now we are expected to spend the money and repair them all over again, probably for the Iraqis to let them rot again.

It sounds more and more to me like the Iraqis know they have us by the cojones because Bush can't do anything but stay the course. So, they intend to let us pay all the bills, over and over again, and do all the work while they go out and bicker and fight and play around, with no apparent intention of taking any real responsibility themselves.

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#729171 - 04/11/05 09:39 AM Re: A Year with the Iraqi Resistance
reblder Offline
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Registered: 10/21/01
Posts: 1237
Loc: Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Posted by RZ:
 Quote:
It sounds more and more to me like the Iraqis know they have us by the cojones because Bush can't do anything but stay the course. So, they intend to let us pay all the bills, over and over again, and do all the work while they go out and bicker and fight and play around, with no apparent intention of taking any real responsibility themselves.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[/b]
Yep, they figured since we f----d them over when invading, it's now they turn to f--k us over. One good turn deserves another.

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#729172 - 04/11/05 02:41 PM Re: A Year with the Iraqi Resistance
yhabpo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/22/04
Posts: 489
 Quote:
If it was 1944, the article could have been "A year with the Nazis - and somehow, I think kathyk and Yapababoon would both have liked the article.
You jeered when I made comparisons between the current American administration and the Nazis. Now, you are acting similarly. I'm happy that we are relating with each other.

What I found interesting about that article is the portrayal of the Iraqi resistence as comprised of common family men, instead of fanatical Islamic fundamentalists who sleeps in caves wearing suicide belts. I hope this article will make people think deeply whenever the Amercian propaganda centers releases numbers for "insurgents killed."

 Quote:
...General Swannack was quoted as saying that 95 percent of the people of Fallujah supported the occupation and that the attack represented the views of just a few bad guys. It was a bizarre statement, and he must have known that he was lying.

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#729173 - 04/11/05 02:56 PM Re: A Year with the Iraqi Resistance
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
Originally posted by kathyk:
Face it - [/b]
- if anyone cared what the left thinks--they would have won the election. \:D

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#729174 - 04/11/05 11:57 PM Re: A Year with the Iraqi Resistance
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
What I found interesting about that article is the portrayal of the Iraqi resistence as comprised of common family men, instead of fanatical Islamic fundamentalists who sleeps in caves wearing suicide belts. I hope this article will make people think deeply whenever the Amercian propaganda centers releases numbers for "insurgents killed."[/b]

You can find that interesting all you want to - you're reading an article written with the intent to portray the insurgents in a postive light. The fact remains that most of the insurgents aren't even Iraqis, much less "common family men". Most of them are outsiders, most of them are in fact fanatical Islamic fundamentalists.

You need to quit focusing on the tiny minority of troublemakers and do a little reading on the 99% that are trying to work with us to build a better future for them and their children.
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#729175 - 04/12/05 05:30 AM Re: A Year with the Iraqi Resistance
kathyk Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/19/03
Posts: 6971
Loc: Maine
Care to share the souce of *your* statistics, Larry? Did you even read the article? :rolleyes:

The article was from Harper's magazine, written by an Irish bloke who recently spent a year there. This is what you can *really* call an imbedded reporter; not under the protective armor and and behind the narrow lens of the US military, but out in harms way along side the enemy. If nothing else, this author in incredibly driven and brave. The one thing the guy refrains from doing in the whole article is editorializing or passing moral judgements. He tells his story as he saw it - through the eyes of the enemy, who lo and behold, sounds like a lot of fairly regular guys.

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#729176 - 04/12/05 08:32 AM Re: A Year with the Iraqi Resistance
reblder Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/21/01
Posts: 1237
Loc: Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Posted by Larry.........
 Quote:
The fact remains that most of the insurgents aren't even Iraqis, much less "common family men". Most of them are outsiders, most of them are in fact fanatical Islamic fundamentalists.

[/b]
And what, prithee, would be the source for *that* observation?

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#729177 - 04/12/05 09:46 PM Re: A Year with the Iraqi Resistance
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
And what, prithee, would be the source for *that* observation?[/b]

Just about every single news story that's addressed the subject. The shallowness you and Kathy both bring to any discussion about these kinds of issues simply stun me. I cannot understand how something so obvious can simply fly right over your heads the way it does.
_________________________
Life isn't measured by the breaths you take. Life is measured by the things that left you breathless

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#729178 - 04/12/05 10:34 PM Re: A Year with the Iraqi Resistance
RZ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/05/04
Posts: 515
Loc: Anaheim, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Larry:
And what, prithee, would be the source for *that* observation?[/b]

Just about every single news story that's addressed the subject. The shallowness you and Kathy both bring to any discussion about these kinds of issues simply stun me. I cannot understand how something so obvious can simply fly right over your heads the way it does. [/b]
The reports and studies that have come out in the last six months, including from the CIA in early February and ones from other US government agencies show that the insurgents are primarily Iraqi's, not foreigners.

You need to check your sources more closely, Larry. You are reporting the political line of a year ago. While no one denies there is foreign help coming to the insurgents, no one in a position of authority is saying the insurgents are primarily foreign any longer.

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#729179 - 04/13/05 09:04 AM Re: A Year with the Iraqi Resistance
reblder Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/21/01
Posts: 1237
Loc: Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Posted by RZ:
 Quote:
You need to check your sources more closely, Larry. You are reporting the political line of a year ago. While no one denies there is foreign help coming to the insurgents, no one in a position of authority is saying the insurgents are primarily foreign any longer. [/b]
Believe me, we've gotten to the point long ago where we couldn't expect anything less from our esteemed nutty Neocon spokesman AKA Larry. I would have thought he'd eventually tire of spewing forth those same boringly predictable accusations, tiresome tirades, but evidently not.

Mark Mandell

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