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Iraqis Struggle to End Occupation

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    The escalating attacks are not usually aimed at civilians, but are a direct response to the brutal actions of US-led troops The Iraqi resistance only exists to
    Message 1 of 1 , May 5, 2007
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      The escalating attacks are not usually aimed at civilians, but are a
      direct response to the brutal actions of US-led troops


      The Iraqi resistance only exists to end the U.S. occupation
      Haifa Zangana
      Thursday April 12, 2007
      The Guardian
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2054881,00.html


      In Muqdadiyah, 50 miles from Baghdad, a woman wearing a traditional
      Iraqi abaya blew herself up this week in the midst of Iraqi police
      recruits. This was the seventh suicide attack by a women since the
      Anglo-American invasion in 2003, and an act unheard of before that.
      Iraqi women are driven to despair and self-destruction by grief. Their
      expectations are reduced to pleas for help to clear the bodies of the
      dead from the streets, according to a report by the international
      committee of the Red Cross, released yesterday. It's the same
      frustration that drew hundreds of thousands to demonstrate against
      foreign forces in Najaf on Monday.

      In the fifth year of occupation, the sectarian and ethnic divide
      between politicians, parties and their warring militias has become
      monstrous, turning on its creators in the Green Zone and beyond, and
      not sparing ordinary people. One of the consequences is a major change
      in the public role of women.

      During the first three years of occupation women were mostly confined
      to their homes, protected by male relatives. But now that the savagery
      of their circumstances has propelled many of them to the head of their
      households, they are risking their lives outdoors. Since men are the
      main target of US-led troops, militias and death squads, black-cloaked
      women are seen queuing at prisons, government offices or morgues, in
      search of disappeared, or detained, male relatives. It is women who
      bury the dead. Baghdad has become a city of bereaved women. But
      contrary to what we are told by the occupation and its puppet regime,
      this is not the only city that is subject to the brutality that forces
      thousands of Iraqis to flee their country every month.

      Bodies are found across the country from Mosul to Kirkuk to Basra.
      They are handcuffed, blindfolded and bullet-ridden, bearing signs of
      torture. They are dumped at roadsides or found floating in the Tigris
      or Euphrates. A friend of mine who found her brother's body in a
      hospital's fridge told me how she checked his body and was relieved.
      "He was not tortured", she said. "He was just shot in the head."

      Occupation has left no room for any initiative independent of the
      officially sanctioned political process; for a peaceful opposition or
      civil society that could create networks to bridge the politically
      manufactured divide. Only the mosque can fulfil this role. In the
      absence of the state, some mosques provide basic services, running
      clinics or schools. In addition to the call to prayer, their
      loudspeakers warn people of impending attacks or to appeal for blood
      donors.

      But these attempts to sustain a sense of community are regularly
      crushed. On Tuesday, troops from the Iraqi army, supported by US
      helicopters, raided a mosque in the heart of old Baghdad. The
      well-respected muazzin Abu Saif and another civilian were executed in
      public. Local people were outraged and attacked the troops. At the end
      of the day, 34 people had been killed, including a number of women and
      children. As usual, the summary execution and the massacre that
      followed were blamed on insurgents. The military statement said US and
      Iraqi forces were continuing to "locate, identify, and engage and kill
      insurgents targeting coalition and Iraqi security forces in the area".

      It is important to recognise that the resistance was born not only of
      ideological, religious and patriotic convictions, but also as a
      response to the reality of the brutal actions of the occupation and
      its administration. It is a response to arbitrary break-ins,
      humiliating searches, arrests, detention and torture. According to the
      Red Cross, "the number of people arrested or interned by the
      multinational forces has increased by 40% since early 2006. The number
      of people held by the Iraqi authorities has also increased significantly."

      Many of the security detainees are women who have been subjected to
      abuse and rape and who are often arrested as a means to force male
      relatives to confess to crimes they have not committed. According to
      the Iraqi MP Mohamed al-Dainey, there are 65 documented cases of
      women's rape in occupation detention centres in 2006. Four women
      currently face execution - the death penalty for women was outlawed in
      Iraq from 1965 until 2004 - for allegedly killing security force
      members. These are accusations they deny and Amnesty International has
      challenged.

      There is only one solution to this disaster, and that is for the US
      and Britain to accept that the Iraqi resistance is fighting to end the
      occupation. And to acknowlege that it consists of ordinary Iraqis, not
      only al-Qaida, not just Sunnis or Shias, not those terrorists - as
      Tony Blair called them - inspired by neighbouring countries such as
      Iran. To recognise that Iraqis are proud, peace-loving people, and
      that they hate occuption, not each other. And to understand that the
      main targets of the resistance are not Iraqi civilians. According to
      Brookings, the independent US research institute, 75% of recorded
      attacks are directed at occupation forces, and a further 17% at Iraqi
      government forces. The average number of attacks has more than doubled
      in the past year to about 185 a day. That is 1,300 a week, and more
      than 5,500 a month.

      Another way of understanding this is that in any one hour, day or
      night, there are seven or eight new attacks. Without the Iraqi
      people's support, directly and indirectly, this level of resistance
      would not have happened.


      ยท Haifa Zangana, an Iraqi exile who was imprisoned by Saddam Hussein,
      is the author of Women on a Journey: Between Baghdad and London
      haifa_zangana @ yahoo.co.uk

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