May 27, 2005
Minister of Defense, Sadoun al-Dulaimi, announced that starting Saturday 40,000
Iraqi troops will seal Baghdad and begin to “hunt down insurgents and their
weapons.” Baghdad will be divided into two main sections, east and west, and
within each section there will be smaller areas of control.
There will be at least 675 checkpoints and
al-Dulaimi said this is the first phase of a security crackdown that will
eventually cover all of Iraq.
Keep in mind that most of Iraq has remained in a
“state of emergency” since the beginning of the siege of Fallujah, on November
“We will also impose a concrete blockade around
Baghdad, like a bracelet around an arm, God willing, and God be with us in our
crackdown on the terrorists’ infrastructure.”
Also at the press conference was Bayan Jabor,
the Minister of Interior who added, “These operations will aim at turning the
government's role from defensive to offensive.”
This is really, really bad news.
The Iraqi security forces already have an
extremely bad name throughout much of Baghdad. I’ve had three Iraqi doctors tell
me, in different hospitals at different times, that they call the Iraqi National
Guard the “dogs of the Americans.”
Another close friend of mine in Baghdad, also a
doctor, wrote me recently to say;
“Iraqi forces now have what they call “liwaa al
deeb,” which means the Wolf Brigade. This is a very American name, and is an
ugly name which gives the impression of violence. In the past the Iraqi troops
held names of some famous Muslim and Arabic symbols which were more accepted.
Anyway, the name wouldn’t matter if their behavior was straight….they now
practice a kind of state sponsored terrorism.”
He went on to give an example of their
“Eyewitnesses in Al-Saydia area to the south of
Baghdad told me that recently when a car bomb detonated and destroyed the area
nearby, people were astonished to see the so-called police looting a destroyed
mobile phone store that was nearby! The police now are a bunch of thieves. Many
of then are already criminals who were released from Abu Ghraib prison before
When I was in Baghdad in January, I was shot at
by Iraqi Police on two different occasions simply because our car drove too
close to them.
Hence, out of concern for his family, Abu Talat
has returned to Baghdad. He fears that his two youngest sons will be detained
simply because they are of “military age,” according to the US
Even now in Haditha, where the US military is
engaged in an operation called “Operation New Market,” (where do they get these
names?) somewhat similar to the recent attack on Al-Qa’im, where around 1,000
troops are raiding homes. They have set up sniper positions, and according to an
Iraqi doctor I spoke with today that has colleagues in Haditha, “The Americans
are detaining so many people there, any man between the ages of 16 and 25 years
is being immediately detained without question.”
So Abu Talat is back into the fire…needless to
say, I support his decision to go back to look after his family, but not without
deep concern and sadness.
“What else can I do, habibi,” he asks me while
holding up his hands today.
So we say goodbye yet again, which in this
situation is always a difficult thing to do. Will I see him again? Will his
family be alright? What if…?
Life in occupied Iraq. On any given day,
anything can happen. It’s a numbers game.
He or any of my other friends there could end up
like the three civilians who were shot dead by US soldiers yesterday while they
were traveling in a minibus in al-Dora, Baghdad.
Lieutenant Jamie Davis, a spokesman for the US
military, said of the slaughter, “The details are sketchy and we don’t know who
According to AFP, the bus driver who survived
the incident said US troops opened fire after he pulled over to get out of their
Now with over 675 checkpoints to be manned by
the “dogs of the Americans,” we’ll all have to get used to countless more
civilian deaths where “the details are sketchy.”