Land Ruled By Chaos Goldenberg Suzanne

“A Land Ruled by Chaos” – Goldenberg

Suzanne Goldenberg’s long account of her recent journey to Iraq in The Guardian sounds an awful lot more like the Iraq visible in Arabic-speaking journalists’ accounts than the recent fluff pieces by non-Arabists like Max Boot and Patrick Clawson. Some quotes:

Iraq under the US-led occupation is a fearful, lawless and broken place, where murder rates have rocketed, 80% of workers are idle and hospital managers despair at shortages of IV sets and basic antibiotics. Police are seen as thugs and thieves, and the American and British forces as distant rulers, more concerned with protecting their troops than providing security to ordinary Iraqis. The governing council they created is simply irrelevant. A mile away from one of the richest oilfields on earth, the queues at petrol stations stretch for hours.

The dangers are readily apparent in Basra, Iraq’s second city after Baghdad. It also ranks second in terms of its problems: a capricious electricity supply, kidnappings, carjackings and revenge killings, marauding tribesmen from the countryside, a more generalised lawlessness and economic paralysis.

. . . he is disturbed by the growing rivalry between Shia clerics over control of the holy shrines of Najaf, and their coffers. A few mornings ago, the armed followers of a relatively upstart cleric called Muqtada al-Sadr turned up at a shrine in the adjoining town of Kufa. As pilgrims watched aghast, the thugs from Sadr’s so-called Mahdi army beat and chased away the men who have been hereditary custodians for the site as long as anyone in Najaf can remember. They then took control of the strongbox where donations from pilgrims are gathered, shearing off the three locks from the finance ministry, the community charitable trust and the keepers, which had served to regulate the funds for years. The bonanza was estimated to be worth several million dinars a week, enough for a steady supply of AK-47s. All of Najaf is talking about the affront.

Posted in Uncategorized | No Responses | Print |