*Madinat Saddam, a Shiite area of 2 million in Baghdad, had already tossed out the Iraqi militiamen two days ago, it turns out. These desperately poor slum dwellers had suffered massacres as recently as 1999, when they rose up in protest against Saddam’s assassination of Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr. I suspect their first order of business is to rename their municipality.
*Lebanon announced the arrest of five fundamentalist terrorists who were planning attacks on fast food restaurants, embassies, and other America-related targets in that country. They have apparently already carried out a number of such bombings in the past year. They are described as Lebanese (i.e. not Palestinians), and as fundamentalists; I take it they are Sunnis or it would have been mentioned. And, they are said not to be connected to al-Qaeda. So what Sunni Lebanese organization is undertaking terrorism against US targets?
*The prominent Shiite cleric Muhammad Husayn Fadlu’llah warned the Palestinians to become united if they were to avoid America’s plans for them in the wake of the fall of Iraq. The Palestinians’ lack of unity does not help anything. But they are a small weak poor people, much poorer now than 2 years ago, and even if they were united they are unlikely to be able to avoid having others’ plans thrust on them. What worries me is that the Arab world is clearly full of the same despair voiced by Fadlu’llah, and despair and humiliation breed terrorism.
*Scott Pelley is reporting that the situation is still rather dire in Basra, where there is extensive looting and disorder, and where potable water, food and other necessities are in short supply. He quotes Iraqis as saying: ‘ One local man put it in limited but succinct English. “English invade Basra. No anything. Why?” [Is it better with Saddam gone?:] “No, no,” he said. “Water no good. No water, no good.” A man called Kasim told us there is no medicine in the hospitals, and there are no cops on the beat. And, he said, “At night there is a big number of thieves.” ‘ He says that looting is now the city’s major industry. And now the Red Cross has pulled out of Baghdad because of disorder there. The coalition needs to restore order to these cities if it is to have any political credibility.
The difficulty comes about because the US and the UK do not have mobile gendarmeries that can step in to handle such situations. Some European countries do, but they were not on board with this invasion. It is another reason for which getting a UN umbrella would have been better.