More on Amiriya Demonstration
An informed reader writes:
‘ You had a brief mention today: “Al-Sharq al-Awsat: Hundreds of residents of Amiriyah, a district of Baghdad, demonstrated Thursday in protest against the recent killing of three men there in a joint US-Iraqi military sweep.” Reuters also ran the story . . .
I recently wrote to some friends:
“Most Americans – and especially American troops who were only kids at the time – are also unaware that the neighborhood where this happened is the site of the Amiriya air raid shelter that was hit by a US smart bomb in the 1991 Gulf War. The US military at the time admitted they had made a mistake (they thought it was a shelter for Iraqi leaders if I recall right), but they managed to send a smart bomb down the air shaft into the shelter and literally incinerated 400 civilians. I remember thinking right before Baghdad was captured “what’s the reaction going to be when US troops capture the Amiriya shelter?” It was and is a symbol of how completely out of touch we as Americans are with the reality of life as Iraqis live it in their own country. The place had become a shrine in Iraq for the past decade, a symbol of unquenchable sorrow and anger at the US during the decade of sanctions, but I doubt if there was a single US soldier who – while no fault of their own, they didn’t know they were going to be sent to rule this foreign country – knew what the place meant to Iraqis. It was absolutely manipulated by Saddam as a tool for his political gain, but it also had a genuine life of its own.
“Many, many people in Iraq were truly devastated and angry at what the US did in that shelter and did not believe US explanations or apologies. I just give that as a background to this incident. There is a longer history to Iraqi anger in Amiriya than just the last three years, and every mis-step, every friend and family member killed by an American simply ratchets up the anger and the already wide divide between the sides. A recurring tragedy with deep roots.” ‘