Friday, April 22, 2005

Another Week in Post-Saddam Iraq

Wednesday, April 20 ... Iraqi security personnel pulled about 50 bodies out of the Tigris River, and more were pulled out the next day. Iraq's interim president, Jalal Talabani, claims they are the remains of as many as 100 Shiites who were abducted in Madain (a town near Baghdad) a week ago. But Iraqi police and health officials in the area say the bodies were in an advanced state of decomposition, indicating that the victims had been murdered and thrown into the river more like 3 or 4 weeks ago, and that they might have come from anywhere.

The corpses showed evidence of horrible mutilation.

Some had their hands cut off, others are headless or burnt. Another was strangled, with his tongue lolling out. [An Iraqi man interviewed at the scene] thinks one bloated, slime-covered corpse might be his younger brother.

The interim government also announced that 19 Iraqi soldiers had been found shot to death in a soccer stadium in Haditha, a Sunni town in Anbar Province. The soldiers were apparently murdered in firing-squad style -- against a wall, blindfolded and hands tied behind their backs -- and their bodies piled in the stadium afterward.

Back in early 2004, when thousands of Shiites who had been murdered by Saddam Hussein's regime were found buried in mass graves, the Bush administration took full advantage of the propaganda value to say what a monster Hussein was and how right and justified the U.S. invasion of Iraq had been: the major point being that now that Saddam Hussein was gone, Iraqis would be so much better off -- particularly Shiite Iraqis, since they were the ones who had been persecuted when Hussein was there.

The hundreds of Shiites who were executed and thrown into the Tigris River were also killed by Sunnis, quite possibly followers of Saddam Hussein, but these Shiites were killed after Hussein was overthrown.

In other times the massacre might have prompted calls for international intervention. But there are already 150,000 US and British troops in Iraq and this was done under their noses. Abu Qaddum’s pictures are a terrifying testament to the chaos of Iraq.

Madain has had no police force since a mob of criminals and insurgents burnt down the police station last year. The police fled.

Sunni guerrillas quickly took over, running the town as their own criminal fiefdom and randomly killing Shia residents, whom they considered infidels and US sympathisers. Then they launched an all-out attempt to purge the town of its Shias.

The Bush administration's response to the grisly discoveries in the Tigris and in Haditha was considerably more muted than it was to the discovery of those mass graves in 2004. According to the Washington Post, the official U.S. response to the killings in Haditha came from the Marine Corps; they said that the U.S. had no information about any killings in Haditha. Luckily, the USMC was able to state with confidence that "insurgents ransacked a television and radio station that provided emergency information, news and entertainment to the local population."

As far as I have been able to discover, the Bush administration had no comments to make at all about the bodies pulled out of the Tigris River.

Thursday, April 21 ... Insurgents in Iraq shot down a Russian-made helicopter, killing 10 men. There were 6 American contractors and 5 other men on board; the 11th man survived the crash and was shot in a volley of gunfire as he tried to walk away. The insurgents filmed the execution in the minutes before an American medical helicopter arrived at the scene.

Friday, April 22 ... At least 9 Iraqis were killed in a car bomb attack on a Shiite mosque in Baghdad. Two of the dead were children.

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