Some Iraqis Criticize Bush’s Speech
Looming Health Crisis in Qaim Area
An Iraqi response to Bush’s claim that he is fighting terrorism by drawing terrorists to Iraq:
‘ “Why don’t they find another place to fight terrorism?” asked Abdul Ridha al-Hafadhi, 58, head of a humanitarian aid group. “I don’t feel comforted by Bush’s remarks; there must be a timetable for their departure.” ‘
On Wednesday, a grenade attack wounded two Polish troops near Diwaniyah, and a bombing in Tel Afar killed four. On Tuesday, a bombing near the Japanese base at Samawah killed two Iraqis. Thousands of people came out for the funeral of slain parliamentarian Dhari Ali al-Fayyadh.
On Tuesday, guerrillas killed US troops at Balad and Tikrit; several were also wounded.
Reuters also reports that on Wednesday US forces arrested Dhahir al-Dhari, a major clan leader whose brother heads up the Association of Muslim Scholars, a hard line Sunni clerical group. Likewise:
‘ But another Sunni leader, Ayham al-Samarai, a former minister in the previous, U.S.-backed interim government, launched a new political movement, saying he aimed to give a voice to figures from the “legitimate Iraqi resistance”. “The birth of this political bloc is to silence the sceptics who say there is no legitimate Iraqi resistance and that they cannot reveal their political face,” he told a news conference. ‘
Al-Zaman: The Ministry of Labor is opening an inquiry into why several major Iraqi factories have closed down.
Iraq’s health minister has warned against a building humanitarian crisis in the Qaim area. US military operations in the cities near the Syrian border have left made refugees out of 7,000 families, some of them now living in tents in the desert. It is alleged that the US is not allowing ambulances and humanitarian aid into the cities, and that there is danger of some refugees starving.
Although the primary stated goal of US campaigns in places such as Qaim is to root out guerrillas using them as bases, the massive force employed clearly announces that a subsidiary goal is to terrify the Sunni Arab population and to “encourage” them to report on the guerrillas from now on. Jane Arraf of CNN when reporting on the al-Qaim campaign showed a picture of what looked like a large community center being blown up by American planes. I thought to myself that it couldn’t possibly be necessary to destroy that nice building. And, at the same time, the US is talking to the guerrilla leaders. Saddam called this sort of policy “tarhib wa taqrib”: first you terrify your subjects, then you find ways of pulling them close to you. It does not reflect well on the US that the techniques it is now using look so familiar.