Thursday | June 26, 2003
Unprovoked murder? The culture clash in Iraq and the growing resistance
Dogs and women.
In the end, it all comes down to simple things, simple rules.
Among them are don't bring dogs into Iraqi homes, or disrespect their women. The Americans and British have been accused of doing both and people are dying behind it.
Even the rumor of searching through women's underwear sent 300 armed men into the streets in an Iraqi town. It may play at 10 Downing Street to call that unprovoked, but to Iraqis, it was a gross insult and provocation.
Local residents complained about the use of dogs by the soldiers and alleged that they pointed weapons at women and children. "As Muslims, we can't accept dogs at our homes," Rabee al-Malki told Reuters. Muslims believe that the animals are impure.
Others alleged, as many do in Iraq, that the soldiers were disrespectful towards women. "A British soldier held the underwear of a woman and stretched it. How can we accept this as Muslims and as Shias?" said Faleh Saleem, who lives in Majar al-Kabir.
Amara is a tough town, filled with hard men. They say they gave the British a chance, welcomed them. But they weren't giving up their guns. They didn't give them up to Saddam and they weren't going to surrender them to the British. They'd fought Saddam to the point that he drained their marshes so they would have no place to hide.
In less than two days, we have 10 dead, 16 wounded and 2 missing and possibly kidnapped. In addition, the power has been blown in Baghdad, the water no longer works, and the average temperature is 110 degrees.
Is it a pattern of resistance? Maybe. But the complaints about US and British behavior, the cultural misunderstandings between the occupier and the occupied is what is driving the killing. The British act like Amara, a den of smugglers, will turn over their kin for defending their faith and honor. There was no misunderstanding on their part. The British disrespected them and they paid for it.
The coalition has misjudged the Iraqi people and their awareness. They treat them like Afghans, isolated from the world, and they are not. They are no more isolated or religious as your average Texan. They know the world well enough to know the CPA is ruining their lives. Who wants to swelter and drink dirty water? Freedom doesn't eliminate cholera.
The lack of Arabic speakers, the ignorance of basic religious and local customs, the force being used is leading to disaster.
The policy in Iraq is speeding towards a nationwide resistance that the US is unable to deal with. Blaming current conditions on Saddam is a handy foil, but fooling no one. Saddam was truly hated across Iraq. The Shia tribesmen who fought him are clearly not his foils. They are hard men, who live by rules one crosses only if they want to die. Calling for an arrest is as foolish as sending dogs into their homes. Anyone who knew the region would have known they would kill transgressors for a serious offense.
Make no mistake about what is at stake here. If the US is driven from Iraq, the policy failure will be the greatest since Pearl Harbor. We have no more troops to send. The few and scattered replacements we're getting vary in capability to a frightening degree. We can kill more people, but they can kill and wound us in turn.
The apologists try to spin day after day of bad news from Iraq with distractions. At this point, I'd argue that the WMD hunt, while politically relevant, is fast being overtaken by the utter disaster taking place on the ground.
A U.S. military spokesman, Maj. William Thurmond, played down this week's violence as a "spike" and not a trend. Thurmond said the spate of ambushes could be a response to recent U.S. raids on Baath Party strongholds.
"There have been more attacks recently, but it's probably premature to say this is part of a pattern," Thurmond said. "We've kicked open the nests of some of these bad guys."
This is a statement so dishonest that it is like travelling back in time to Vietnam. We don't know who the enemy is or who supports them. There are at least four nacient resistance groups and three of them are anti-Baathist.
Our cultural misunderstandings in Iraq infest every aspect, every dealing, like the microbes which will infect Iraqis as they drink fecal contaminated water. There was and is an Iraq beyond Saddam and that Iraq is killing Coalition soldiers on a daily basis.
Steve GilliardPosted June 26, 2003 03:05 PM | Comments (160)