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  Monday  December 1  2003    04: 04 PM

iraq — vietnam on internet time

Eid Recap...

And so Eid Al Fittur has come and gone once again. This year was, of course, different from every year. It was more quiet and solemn than usual. The first day we spent at home, welcoming relatives and neighbors who came to say "Eid Mubarek", and have some tea and kilaycha.

On the second day, we went to visit a couple of family friends and a relative who are in mourning. It seems like so many people are in mourning this Eid. When you visit someone during the holidays who is in mourning, you can't say "Eid Mubarek" to them because it, in a way, is an insult to wish them joy during their difficult time. Instead, we say "Akhir il ahzan" which basically means, "May this be the last of your sorrows…" The person will often simply nod their head, fight back the tears and attempt to be civil. I hate making these visits because it really seems like a terrible intrusion.

One of our Eid visits was to a close friend of my mother who lives in Al-A'adhamiya. In April, she lost her husband, son and young daughter when a tank fired at their car as they were trying to evacuate their house. We went to visit her on the second day of Eid. I was dreading the visit because the last time I had seen her, she was only this fragment of a person. It was like she was only a whole person with her husband and kids and now she is only 1/4 of a whole. For the first month after their death, she couldn't eat, sleep or speak. When we saw her in May, she couldn't or wouldn't recognize us.

We went to see her at her sister's house in the same area. She doesn't live in her old house anymore- she can't stand how suddenly empty it is. She was speaking and moving around this time, but she isn't the same person- not even close to the same person. She speaks politely and tries to follow with the conversation but you can tell that her mind is somewhere else and it's a huge effort to stay focused on what is being said or done.

As we were leaving, I leaned down and hugged her, whispering "Akhir il ahzan…" and as I pulled away, she simply looked at me, shook her head and said, "Of course it'll be the last of my sorrows- there's nothing else to mourn because nothing else matters…"

Here is an excellent overview on the mess that Bush has us in.

What Washington doesn’t see in Iraq.
  thanks to The Agonist

There is a lot of jockeying for power and it appears that the it isn't Washington calling the shots — it's Sistani and the Shiites.

Talking Points Memo

Back on Wednesday the Post had a piece about how Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani was largely responsible for scuttling our original plan to appoint the drafters of the constitution, rather than have them elected.

Now he's come out against the new plan for electing these folks through a complex series of town caucuses and called instead for direct nationwide elections.

It's pretty hard to fault Sistani's positions on democratic procedural grounds. But the bigger point, again, is our impotence in the face of his expressed views.

He's calling the shots; we're not.

All of this adds up to the essential ridiculousness of the moment: On the homefront, the president is shaping his political campaign around the notion that we shouldn't show weakness and we can't cut and run. Meanwhile, it's clear to pretty much everyone in Iraq that we're doing both.

And they're acting accordingly.

Shiite Clerics Emerge as Key Power Brokers

U.S. Plan May Be in Flux as Iraqis Jockey for Postwar Leverage

Analysis: U.S. plan may be in flux
Iraqis jockey for postwar leverage, complicating transition

Meanwhile, US and coalition troops keep dying. Here is a chart showing the increased rate:

U.S. Military Deaths in the Conquest of Iraq
  thanks to Eric Blume

Here are pictures and sound of the reality Bush is trying to hide.

Inside the Baghdad ER

Doctors hold a patient's hand during an operation. Twenty four hours in the hospital's emergency room with soldiers stripped of their uniforms and gritty exteriors reveals the physical and emotional toll of war in Iraq.


And the rape of the Iraqi economy continues.

Privatisation won't make you popular
Resistance has forced a military rethink - but not an economic one

The war against Iraq began with simultaneous marches by the military and by Bechtel and Halliburton - the corporations coming as planners, consultants, contractors and public accountants all in one. From the outset, the US assumed that Iraq's public institutions were, at best, superfluous. There was little interest in rehabilitation and reform, let alone empowerment. Instead, key Iraqi establishments were subjected to the command of private US enterprises under cover of a war emergency.

The US corporations were granted protection by the military, while state institutions and public property were left to face the onslaught of a destructive mob. Not for the first time in the history of the Middle East, imperial interference both unleashed and benefited from chaos

The destruction of Iraq's public facilities and infrastructure, together with the induced paralysis of its public institutions, has been the Coalition Provisional Authority's (CPA) path to privatisation in Iraq. Although remaining controversial, privatisation in Britain usually follows a period of reform, commercialisation and institutional strengthening. Moreover, the UK's financial markets and private sector can sustain a gradual introduction of public stock. None of these conditions applies to Iraq, where privatisation is being imposed by bombing, looting, freezing of assets, random sacking of staff and exposure to unfair competition.

Remember the oil?

Iraq's oil pipelines under attack
Resistance forces repeatedly hitting vulnerable spots; cost to rebuild rises

  thanks to Information Clearing House

Oil Experts See Long-Term Risks to Iraq Reserves