Iraqs Divided Loyalties And Bremer

Iraq’s Divided Loyalties and Bremer Walls

Phil Smucker writes perceptively from Baghdad in The Scotsman about the discontents of Iraqis and their ethnic divisions.

I thought his characterization of the difference between US and British patrol strategies interesting, and also had not heard the neologism “Bremer walls” for the concrete barricades behind which Americans have withdrawn.

“Security, not democracy, is the dominant concern of most Iraqis struggling to make ends meet in the post-Saddam era. Whereas British forces remain on constant patrol in the south of the country, in the central regions American forces have largely withdrawn behind massive concrete barriers, nicknamed “Bremmer Walls,” after the top US administrator ambassador Paul Bremmer. When mayhem erupts in the form of a car-bombing or an assault on an Iraqi police station, US and British forces are often nowhere to be seen. “

He interviews Hosam, a young Sunni man from a pro-Saddam family who now serves as a policeman with the Americans. I thought the bit about fisherman tossing grenades in the water instead of patiently waiting for a nibble was priceless. How could you establish security in a country where the fishermen have grenades to spare?

“We want an Islamic commander in this country,” [Hosam] says, sitting alongside the Tigris River as fishermen toss their nets across an inlet, while others simply toss grenades in the water, hoping for better results. “Though we have a proud history, Iraq has been a great historical loser.” Another brother in the same family served in one of the Iraqi president’s elite militias . . . He believes that, by serving in the US sponsored force, he is forsaking both Islam and his own nation. “We are in the service of an occupier and so we are betraying our nation,” he says . . .

And this on Sistani’s ability to “finish” the Americans, from a Shiite:

“If America tries to prolong its occupation and upsets Sistani, I think they’ll be finished here,” says Ahmed al-Moussaoui, whose family owns a hotel in the southern Shiite city of Karbala. “He has never expressed any gratitude towards the US presence or intervention here.” ‘

The whole piece is well worth reading.