From Dahr’s weblog
The evening of the 21st found me at a CPA-approved demonstration of Shia men in support of the recent U.S airstrike of Fallujah. Remember, demonstrations in Iraq now must obtain permission from the CPA, otherwise risk being broken up by the military, which has so often led to making casualties of unarmed demonstrators during the occupation.
These CPA-sponsored demonstrations also tend to have U.S. helicopters providing air support for them, which tends to be a giveaway as well.
The demonstration wasn’t in support of killing the people of Fallujah, only those responsible for the killing of seven Shi’ite truck drivers there a short time ago. Several of the men were quick to point out that they believed most of the people in Fallujah were honest and good. One of the fathers of several of the slain men showed us gruesome photos of their mangled bodies while three large mortar blasts rocked the nearby so-called “Green Zone.” The concussion of the blasts reverberated in my bones, but the conversation continued uninterrupted.
This is Baghdad today. This is normal.
Hakkim had spoken there, and several of his Badr “organization” were present complete with full military fatigues and combat boots, submachine guns, sniper rifles, and AK-47s. (The quotation marks above are because the Badr Brigade was renamed when it “disbanded,” to the “Badr organization.”) This despite the statement that Al-Hakkim’s militia had disbanded, and his guards were only supposed to be carrying “light weapons.” Iraqi Police drove slowly by while nervously watching the members of the heavily armed Badr “organization” from their trucks.
Meanwhile, Iraqi anger seethed about the second air strike in Fallujah in four days, which Iraqi Police and residents of Fallujah are claiming killed nobody but civilians. Yesterday, the bodies of four U.S. soldiers were found in Ramadi, which isn’t a surprise. During each of my recent visits to Ramadi, I’ve found the people there in total solidarity with Fallujah. Most of the tribes there occupy both cities, and many people in Ramadi even refer to Fallujah as part of Ramadi.
Ramadi and Baqubah both remain tense with recent fighting; the potential of them turning into the next Fallujah remains quite present.
During a recent visit to pick up my airplane ticket out of Baghdad, I learned that the airport road and all civilian flights out of the capital will be closed on June 30. The service I’m using was instructed to rebook all of its June 30 flights to the 29th or July 1. It will be interesting to see if the airport is reopened on July 1. The nickname for the airport road is “RPG Alley.”
This just underscores how tenuous a grip the U.S. occupation forces have on the situation here. It certainly wouldn’t take much to tip this delicately balanced scale into complete chaos and bloodshed. The feeling amongst many Iraqis is that any semblance of control the “coalition” appears to have is merely an illusion.
I saw a clip on BBC of U.S. troops handing out Frisbees to residents of a village near Fallujah. The clip began with a Marine saying, “What happened on 9/11 really affected me, so our duty now is to export violence to the four corners of the globe so that that doesn’t happen again.” And Iraq has what connection to 9/11, exactly?
Maybe the U.S. could export aid to the hospitals of Iraq rather than Frisbees and violence?
Just a thought.