News and opinions on situation in Iraq
16/05/04 Iraqi Outrage Grows Dahr Jamail's Weblog
 
Dahr Jamail worked fast and we edited feverishly go get this breaking news story out. As his blog post below attests, Dahr showed up to the scene of the latest raid of the Abu Hanifa mosque while the action was still in progress.

“U.S. Military Raids Baghdad Mosque, Enraging Sunni Muslims” For the second time in just over a month, US soldiers have raided the Abu Hanifa mosque in Baghdad, apparently finding nothing they came for. Speculation is growing that they are coming just to harass. newstandardnews.net/content/?action=show_item&itemid=347

For some behind-the-scenes perspective and additional commentary, here's Dahr's latest weblog entry…

“Iraqi Outrage Grows…” weblog entry by Dahr Jamail, NewStandard Weblogs blog.newstandardnews.net/iraqdispatches/archives/000397.html

Baghdad, May 16 – Yesterday at 5:30pm I tried to approach U.S. soldiers who had sealed off the Abu Hanifa Mosque in Al-Adhamiya, Baghdad. Holding my press badge up in the air, in loud, clear English from about 50 feet away I yelled to a soldier sitting behind a machine gun on a Bradley, “I am press! May I please get a comment from one of you about what the goal of your operation is here?”

Before I finished that sentence a soldier standing near the armored vehicle pulled his M-16 to his shoulder and held me in his sights. With a wave of adrenaline I yelled, “I am press! I just want to get a comment from someone!”

Two soldiers gestured their heads “no” with their heads while another waved me away, all the while the soldier kept his gun trained on me.

Freedom of the press in the 'New Iraq.'

I slowly walked back to a crowd of Iraqis nodding their heads in disbelief, pondering why people wonder for one second why there is so much anger in Iraq towards the occupiers.

Meanwhile, the news in the U.S. today from the AP wire includes the death of 85 year-old Col. Robert Morgan, commander of the famed Memphis Belle B-17 bomber that flew combat missions over Europe during World War II. The U.S., with Mr. Bush at the helm who has deemed himself a “war president” seems more and more to be a country that celebrates its wars.

Following a peace demonstration of over 100,000 Israelis on Saturday evening in support of an Israeli withdraw from the Gaza Strip, Israeli helicopters launched yet more rockets into Gaza. It appears as though the people in America, the majority of whom now disapprove of Mr. Bush, are not alone in having their government misrepresent their wishes.

In Jordan at the World Economic Forum, Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “Mr. Arafat continues to take actions and make statements to make it exceptionally difficult to move forward” on peacemaking.

Does anyone else see a little hypocrisy here?

Iraqis do. In a recent poll over 80% of them oppose the occupation of their country. Why? Aside from the graphic torture photographs in the news and fighting which is raging throughout southern Iraq, the less obvious tolls caused by this botched occupation continue to grind away on most people here.

A few days ago in Tikrit, a group of young men were sitting in the sun amidst blowing dust hoping for work. As we pulled up to ask directions, with eager faces they quickly surrounded the open window of the car, hoping for a day of work∑

Unemployment in occupied Iraq remains well over 50%, with no end in sight.

Later that day in Kirkuk, pools of green sewage stood in several streets, as they do in the impoverished Sadr City and other places within Baghdad. Reconstruction, mostly controlled by foreign contractors, has been brought to a grinding halt due to the horrendous security situation.

While companies like Bechtel continue to get paid due to their “cost plus” contracts, Iraqis carry on living with inadequate electricity and unhealthy drinking water (if any at all), amidst the backdrop in Baghdad of bombed out buildings from the invasion which took place over a year ago.

Mosques throughout Iraq are regularly raided by the occupying military looking for weapons and suspects. Boots are worn inside the mosques, dogs are used, doors are smashed open even when keys are offered, copies of the Holy Koran are sometimes thrown on the floor. Worshippers are held at gunpoint, often with the boots of soldiers holding their heads to the ground.

The only weapons found during the last two raids at the Abu Hanifa Mosque in Al-Adhamiya have been those carried by U.S. soldiers.

While the only visible construction in Baghdad by the U.S. seems to be the stringing of more razor wire and the piling of more concrete blocks around the bases of the “liberators” and bringers of “democracy”, most Iraqis I speak with are wondering how much worse it has to get here before something gives.

With the legion of unfulfilled promises eroding what is left of the hope of weary Iraqis, so many, by default, continue to wonder what the true motives of the Bush Administration are for invading and occupying their country.

Following the Abu Hanifa mosque raid on April 11th, Kassem, a 54 year-old grandfather who works as one of the guards at the mosque, said a US soldier hit him in the forehead with the butt of an M-16 rifle when they were looking for weapons. He stated, “When I fell to the ground they kicked me! They came to humiliate the people of Islam. Why else? They want to destroy the Islamic religion.”

---------------------------------------------- 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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