New President, New Car Bomb

While Iraqi and American political players have been frenetically rearranging the chairs of interim government members on the Titanic that is occupied Iraq today, a massive car bomb explosion rumbles my hotel, miles from where it detonated outside of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan building near the so-called Green Zone.

So rather than celebratory gunfire for the appointment of a new president, we have a car bomb, a huge mushroom cloud and whaling sirens in the center of the capital city today.

“What good does having these new people in these new positions do me?” says my friend, Abu Talat, angry after hearing the news of Ghazi Yawar being appointed the new president of Iraq.

An Iraqi doctor sitting nearby laughs out loud and asks, “Did I miss the elections?”

Even though in a rare show of backbone the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council stood up to Bremer and company, helping to thwart the U.S. plan of Pachachi as their first choice, most Iraqis I’ve spoken with thus far remain apathetic as another decision made which they have no control over feeds the deep layers of distrust, as well as disdain, toward the U.S. policymakers and Iraqi appointees in their country.

Those who have some hope for the new president do so mainly because he is the sheikh of a very large tribe and has a good reputation amongst Iraqis.

Then there is the continuing misreporting by mainstream media of a convoy of foreign “civilians” being killed by gunmen in Baghdad on Sunday. Keep in mind, it was the killing of mercenaries in Fallujah two months ago that led to the slaughter of between 800-1200 Iraqis when a siege of the city followed the barbaric treatment dealt the corpses of those four guns-for-hire.

A more truthful lead sentence for the incident last weekend might read: “Western mercenaries wearing black helmets and holding their guns out the open windows of heavily-armored SUVs hosting multiple antennae that stand out like a sore thumb were attacked by members of the resistance in occupied Iraq today.”

Somewhere in the story about the attack it would have to mention that several of the surviving mercenaries in the vehicles managed to hijack an Iraqi’s car at gunpoint on the other side of the highway in order to escape alive. Because according to Iraqi police and several witnesses, shortly after the attack on the mercenaries, cheering bystanders doused two of the bullet-riddled SUVs with gasoline and lit them on fire.

The American public might be fooled into thinking that innocent Westerners are being killed mindlessly in occupied Iraq, but members of the Iraqi resistance know the mercenaries when they see them. Even the children here can identify them – they are hard to miss.

After interviewing several Iraqis on Rashid Street for their reaction to the new president today, I found myself in a café with men playing dominoes and drinking lemon chai.

The owner told us of his frustration with the security situation … that before the invasion he used to stay open until 3 a.m., and it was completely safe to do so. Now he must close by 6 p.m.

While we were getting ready to leave, the owner of the café insisted on escorting us to our car. Why? Because not far from the café a looter was robbing another looter.

Author: Dahr Jamail

Dahr Jamail has reported from inside Iraq and is the author of Beyond the Green Zone.