News and opinions on situation in Iraq
12/04/04 No Respite from the Violence Weblog Entry by Dahr Jamail
  From: "The NewStandard" postmistress@newstandardnews.net
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 2004 17:47:27 -0400
Subject: [Iraq Dispatches] No Respite from the Violence

As promised earlier, we have put together an short, "hard news"-style report on Fallujah, incorporating Dahr's important first-hand information. Please go to the site to check it out — and if you have friends for whom Dahr's more personal, bias-exposed weblog entries might be a bit too much, this hard news article is the one to use to show them there is more than just the US military/embedded version of the Fallujah story. Our send-to-friend feature is a perfect way to share information and help promote our and Dahr's independent efforts.
newstandardnews.net/content/?action=show_item&itemid=169

Dahr has been keeping in close contact with us, and assures us he is safe. As the following weblog entry depicts, the situation is getting very hairy for foreigners, even in Baghdad. Dahr will be laying low for a couple of days, but we will keep readers updated on anything important during that period.

Here, then, is Dahr's latest weblog post. (Once again we would like to note that these weblog entries, in contrast to our hard news stories, are merely proofread — and very casually at that — by NewStandard staff. We try to let them convey the authenticity and intimacy of Dahr's voice. Opinions and views shared in these entries are not necessarily those of TNS editors.)

No Respite from the Violence
Weblog Entry by Dahr Jamail, The NewStandard Web Version:
blog.newstandardnews.net/iraqdispatches/archives/000164.html

Baghdad, April 12 — When we returned from Falluja yesterday I felt like I could let my guard down somewhat. For in Baghdad, at least compared to Falluja, there have always been pockets of relative calm. The apartment where I‚m staying is supposedly one of those.

We got news from Christian Peace Team (CPT) that most of the NGO‚s left in Iraq are either pulling out completely, or leaving a skeleton crew. There is also talk of supposed organizing of a UN airlift in the works to fly folks out. But at the same time, there is also talk of the airport closing due to security problems.

In addition, the road to the airport is extremely dangerous because there are many attacks there daily. The other side of the equation is even more horrendous—the main road to Amman is closed at Falluja—still passable by taking side roads around the closed highway. But we‚ve heard reports that foreigners are being pulled from cars, shot, and left there by various militia.

I‚m currently strongly considering leaving∑but it is so volatile that what the safest option may be is changing on an hourly basis. For right now, I just bought some groceries and am holing up in my apartment with my friends.

A few days ago Firdos Square—where the infamous pulling down of Saddam‚s statue occurred after the invasion—was closed and blockaded by the American military. I stood atop my apartment listening to a speaker on a Humvee blaring instructions that anyone who approached the area would be shot on sight. This is freedom.

Apparently the U.S. is prepared to take these measures to prevent another demonstration from occurring there.

We‚re using dark humor to lighten the extremely tense mood here—joking about what we can do if one of us is kidnapped. Jo promises to let any kidnappers know how that I just completed a humanitarian mission to Falluja. I will most certainly tell them she founded an NGO that entertains Iraqi children with a traveling circus, as well as works to aid them.

An Iraqi policeman who knows some nearby flat-mates has given a few of the folks here a ride to the internet café before. He just stopped in to ask if we would like a ride today. He also used the opportunity to tell us Sadr‚s Medhi militia is planning on targeting this area tomorrow and the next day for kidnappings. Guess what my plans are for the next couple of days? Good thing I just bought groceries. We are joking (morbidly) about hiding in the water tanks on the roof. We‚ll move soon most likely, we‚re just trying to find the best option.

But it is odd here—this area has consistently felt like the hole in the donut—the bustling street nearby is full of lights, traffic and shoppers each night, children playing in the street in the evenings.

However, even now many of the stores are closed, and traffic is notably lighter. Even many of the Iraqis themselves are afraid, for nobody really has any idea what might happen next. For this is worse than a war, due to its randomness. There are so many groups battling against the US occupation and targeting foreigners∑it seems like a closer comparison than Vietnam would be Beirut.

Solutions? One thing that remains glaringly apparent today is that Falluja has become another rallying point for the resistance. While most media in the U.S. (and many other Western countries) are failing to report the Iraqi side of the story there, everyone here knows it‚s turned into a full-on massacre, and people are extremely angry. This and the entire debacle of how the Americans have handled the situation with Muqtada Sadr, have together brought rivers of volunteers into the already growing resistance to the occupation.

>Thus, if the U.S. doesn‚t pull out of Falluja, the situation is only sure to worsen. God help us if/when they launch a full on incursion into the city, including increased air strikes. When will whoever is making these unbelievably stupid strategic decisions for the military here wake up?

I would also like to comment on the insane disparity I see in the reporting from CNN and some of the other mainstream media. I‚ve watched several of them on the television, and last night CNN had the gall to say that the ceasefire was holding in Falluja, aside from some Iraqi snipers firing at the Americans there. NPR, NY Times, and several others have reporters embedded with the military there as well.

This is difficult for me to see, particularly after being there yesterday and seeing an ambulance with 3 bullet holes in the driver‚s side of the windshield. Seeing slain women and children, elderly, unarmed people. All killed and/or wounded by the American snipers. How can the media report this when they don‚t even have a correspondent in Falluja? Why are they failing so completely to report the Iraqi side of the story? How much more obvious can it be that they are only parroting the U.S. military lies concerning the situation?

So Americans are killing unarmed Iraqis in Falluja (and elsewhere) because they have the wrong colored skin. And now many Iraqi resistance fighters are responding in kind—killing or kidnapping any foreigner they find.

Several of our Iraqi friends and interpreters now have told us they have received death threats for working with us. Everyone is afraid, and more and more people are simply staying at home. Fighting rages rampantly throughout the country, aside from Kurdistan. What hope for the future do Iraqis have? All of my Iraqi friends are simply holding on day to day.

Yesterday George Bush said he knew what we were doing in Iraq was right. Mr. Bush, does this include massacring unarmed women, children and elderly in Falluja right now? When you say you believe the soldiers in Iraq are acting brilliantly, does this include the snipers shooting ambulances with blaring sirens and flashing lights? Does this include dragging the entire country into a bloody chaos that is worsening by the hour?

In the last week there have been over 600 Iraqis slain in Falluja alone, with thousands more wounded. In this same week over 62 U.S. troops killed, and most certainly hundreds more wounded.

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Dahr Jamail is Baghdad correspondent for The NewStandard. He is an Alaskan devoted to covering the untold stories from occupied Iraq. You can help Dahr continue his crucial work in Iraq by making donations. For more information or to donate to Dahr, visit newstandardnews.net/iraqdispatches .

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