Memorial Day in Iraq: Life’s Never Been Cheaper


Attention, shoppers: Go to the mattresses

Heavy traffic: U.S. military trucks traverse one of many highways to hell in Iraq. The sign says Baghdad and Hilla are straight ahead. Unfortunately, that’s true.

What a day to commemorate dead soldiers: Iraq nears a meltdown into civil war, thanks to separate suicidal gestures by crazed insurgents and stupid U.S. officials.

As the Washington Post reported today:

Three suicide bombers strapped with explosives detonated themselves Monday morning amid a crowd of police commandos in the city of Hilla, southeast of Baghdad, killing 31 people and wounding 108, according to Dr. Muhammed Hadi of the Hilla hospital.

The attack targeted about 1,000 police commandos who were gathered for the second consecutive day to protest a decision by the governor of Babil province to disband their units.

Bloody hell. It was said to be the worst attack in Iraq in more than a year. The report by the Post‘s Saad Sarhan, Khalid Saffar, and Jonathan Finer continued:

The attacks came during a month of sustained violence by insurgents, who have killed more than 700 people across Iraq since the announcement of the country’s new government at the end of April. The explosions in Hilla left the streets soaked in blood and strewn with body parts.

Now for our own suicidal gesture: U.S.-led troops stormed the house of Sunni moderate Mohsen Abdul-Hamid (left), put a bag over his head, cuffed him, and hauled him and his three sons away. Adrian Blomfield of the Telegraph (U.K.) reported:

He was freed 10 hours later, but the US military offered no explanation for his detention and stopped short of apologising.

“It was determined that he was detained by mistake and should be released,” US central command said in a statement. “Coalition forces regret any inconvenience and acknowledge Mr Hamid’s co-operation in resolving this matter.”

What a heavy-handed blunder—I thought Jerry Bremer had already left Iraq.

Abdul-Hamid is the last Sunni you’d want to arrest. The head of the Iraqi Islamic Party, he’s also a noted Koran scholar—do we get an apology now from the Pentagon for trashing, if not the Koran, at least a Koran scholar? I didn’t think so.

This guy is perhaps the most influential Sunni politician who’s willing to deal with the Bush regime and its puppet administration in Baghdad. Of course, Abdul-Hamid doesn’t always agree, but he has been trying to pull his fellow Sunnis into the political process. Or at least he had been until the blustering raid. As the AP’s Patrick Quinn reported:

The arrests came on the second day of Operation Lightning, a massive Iraqi-led anti-insurgent offensive in Baghdad that Abdul-Hamid’s party opposes, believing security forces will trample on innocent people’s rights.

Abdul-Hamid was taken from his home in the western Baghdad suburb of Khadra at about 6 a.m., along with his three sons and four guards, said party secretary-general Ayad al-Samarei.

“This is a provocative and foolish act and this is part of the pressure exerted on the party,” al-Samarei said. “At the time when the Americans say they are keen on real Sunni participation, they are now arresting the head of the only Sunni party that calls for a peaceful solution and have participated in the political process.”

Despite what Quinn says, this is a U.S.-led operation. Hell, the Iraqi “government” didn’t even know this raid had taken place. And Abdul-Hamid and his party won’t soon forget what the troops did. The indefatigable Dahr Jamail, known for The Face of War and other images and words from Iraq, blogged on the Italian site

Abdul-Hamid refused [the U.S.] apology in the Arab media, and stated that he was humiliated when US soldiers held their boots on his head for 20 minutes.

It was also stated that he accused American soldiers of removing items from his home, including a computer. This is standard operating procedure with home raids—I can’t tell you how many Iraqis I’ve interviewed after their homes were raided who complained of money, jewelry, and other belongings being looted by American soldiers.

The Islamic Party released a statement after the release of Abdul Hamid which said, “The U.S. administration claims it is interested in drawing Sunnis into the political process but it seems that their way of doing so is by raids, arrests, and violating human rights.”

As far as Jamail is concerned, the civil war has already started:

At least 740 Iraqis have been killed since the new “government” took power in late April, and with the ongoing operations sparking more attacks each day, it doesn’t look like there is an end in sight.

Keep in mind, the vast majority of the Iraqi security forces are either Shia or Kurdish battling against a primarily Sunni resistance (for now). It can easily be argued that we are witnessing a US-backed Iraqi government who is deliberating using its power to wage a civil war.

Of course, maybe the only thing that could stop a civil war is a united hatred of the bungling U.S. occupation. As the Telegraph‘s Blomfield wrote of the reaction to Abdul-Hamid’s arrest:

Iraq’s constantly bickering Sunni Arabs, Shias, and Kurds were united in condemnation of what was generally perceived as an outrage.

It appeared that the Americans had not sought permission for the raid from the Iraqi government, again raising questions about its supposed sovereignty.