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  Wednesday  June 16  2004    07: 26 AM


Here are two posts from Iraq dispatches, a good source for reporting from outside the Green Zone, thanks to Dahr Jamail.

“The student is gone; the master has arrived.”

This became a very popular saying in Iraq after the US ousted Saddam Hussein.

The situation continues to degrade in occupied Iraq. I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record... but the need to describe life on the ground here continues, as I see it slipping from the news as of late. Overshadowed by more dramatic stories like car bombs and heavy fighting, the silent suffering that has become the daily reality here just isn’t catching much attention.

One exception was the LA Times recently reporting the US military's claim that in the last 9 weeks over 800 people in Sadr City have been killed by occupation forces. Doctors I talked to in the main hospital there confirmed this, adding that the vast majority of them were women and children.

Salam, one of my Iraqi friends, asks: “Why is the news so quiet about all of these things? In the last 6 months 20 people I know have been killed, for nothing! They weren’t fighters -- they were just living their life.”

This is life in Iraq today.


“It has begun.”

Several of us are sitting in the hotel room having lunch, watching the news trying to keep up with the violence daily engulfing Iraq. Let me give you a quick rundown from the last 24 hours.

Late last night fighting continued in Sadr City between the Mehdi Army and occupation forces... leaving at least five Iraqis dead, three of them civilians.

This morning the Republican Palace, where Bremer is headquartered, was blasted by a rocket.

Shortly after 9 this morning, a huge blast rocked Baghdad when a car bomb detonated near Camp Cuervo, a US Army Camp in the northern part of the capital. The explosion left 12 Iraqis dead, 4 of whom were policemen.

While we were watching all of this news, small, black helicopters of special operations forces and private security contractors buzzed like flies over central Baghdad and sirens blared randomly from the blazingly hot streets.

As footage of cars with broken glass and bullet holes in their frames flashed across the screen of the television, my friend’s translator, Hamid, an older man who has grown weary of the violence, said softly: “It has begun. These are only the start, and they will not stop. Even after June 30th.”


Brahimi quits
Fuck it, I'm out of here

Well, that ends another Bush plan. I guess he didn't like the way the interim government was chosen over his head.


Real politics starting inside Iraq?

It is possible, just possible, that the coming weeks will see the emergence of real internal politics inside Iraq. That is, the kind of politics marked by realistic discussion and tough negotiating among leaders of the country's different major factions. That's not to say the violence will completely go away. But if the discussions/negotiations are serious enough, they might be able to win out over the tendency to violence, and the country might yet be able to hold the fair, nationwide elections that everyone--everyone!--says they want to see before the end of January 2005.

That consensus around the need for elections is a great starting point.