Little Has Been Written By American

*Little has been written by American observers about the ways in which the US invasion and occupation of Iraq has worsened women’s lives. Not least, it has unleashed a wave of Shiite nativism and puritanism that is hyper-patriarchal. Thus, bravo to the Christian Science Monitor for covering some of the impact on women of the new situation. Even completely covered-up women have been turned away from shrines and mosques for not being even more covered up. The article does not mention earlier threats by The Sadr movement to assassinate women who associate with Americans. Likewise, today’s Asharq al-Awsat carries a report based in part on a Reuters story about UN officials expressing concern about the continued chaos and lack of security in Iraq. An Iraqi UN worker in Baghdad and her daughters received threats that they would be killed unless they started veiling. If prestigious international bureaucrats are being treated this way, imagine the lives of ordinary women.

*Hundreds of Baathist fighters have been captured and dozens killed in the latest US military operation in the Sunni part of Iraq. In order to understand all this, one has to remember that the Sunni Arabs in Iraq were sort of like the white South Africans in the 1950s. They were a minority that usurped most of the wealth and power in a wealthy country, by keeping everyone else down, often quite brutally. This is why it was unrealistic for all those commentators to proclaim that “the Iraqis” would “dance in the streets” if the US overthrew Saddam. Most Kurds and Shiites are pretty happy that he’s gone, and so are a lot of Sunni Arabs. But not insignificant numbers of the latter are now afraid that they will lose everything in the new system. So, no, they are not all jumping up and down for joy. Some of them are still trying to kill us.

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