Sunday, December 12, 2004
Our esteemed colleague Michael Hawkins of Spontaneous Arising alerted us to the latest dispatch from Baghdad blogger Riverbend, who reports that there's no electricity because there's no gasoline for the generators. "We're an oil country and yet there isn't enough gasoline to go around. Oh don't get me wrong--the governmental people have gasoline (they have special gas stations where there aren't all these annoying people, rubbing their hands with cold and cursing the Americans to the skies)... The Americans have gasoline. The militias get gasoline. It's the people who don't have it":
People are wondering how America and gang (i.e. Iyad Allawi, etc.) are going to implement democracy in all of this chaos when they can't seem to get the gasoline flowing in a country that virtually swims in oil. There's a rumor that this gasoline crisis has been concocted on purpose in order to keep a minimum of cars on the streets. Others claim that this whole situation is a form of collective punishment because things are really out of control in so many areas in Baghdad- especially the suburbs. The third theory is that this being done purposely so that the Iraq government can amazingly bring the electricity, gasoline, kerosene and cooking gas back in January before the elections and make themselves look like heroes.
We're also watching the election lists closely. Most people I've talked to aren't going to go to elections. It's simply too dangerous and there's a sense that nothing is going to be achieved anyway. The lists are more or less composed of people affiliated with the very same political parties whose leaders rode in on American tanks. Then you have a handful of tribal sheikhs. Yes- tribal sheikhs. Our country is going to be led by members of religious parties and tribal sheikhs- can anyone say Afghanistan? What's even more irritating is that election lists have to be checked and confirmed by none other than Sistani!! Sistani- the Iranian religious cleric. So basically, this war helped us make a transition from a secular country being run by a dictator to a chaotic country being run by a group of religious clerics. Now, can anyone say 'theocracy in sheeps clothing'?
Ahmad Chalabi is at the head of one of those lists- who would join a list with Ahmad Chalabi at its head?
The borders are in an interesting state. Now this is something even Saddam didn't do: Iraqi men under the age of 50 aren't being let into the country. A friend of ours who was coming to visit was turned back at the Iraqi border. It was useless for him to try to explain that he had been outside of the country for 10 years and was coming back to visit his family. He was 47 and that meant he, in his expensive business suit, shining leather shoes, and impressive Samsonite baggage, might be a 'Jihadist'. Silly Iraqis- Iraqi men under 50 are a sure threat to the security of their country. American men with guns and tanks are, on the other hand, necessary to the welfare of the country. Lebanese, Kuwaitis and men of other nationalities being hired as mercenaries are vital to the security of said country. Iranian men coming to visit the shrines in the south are all welcome... but Iraqi men? Maybe they should head for Afghanistan.
The assault on Falloojeh and other areas is continuing. There are rumors of awful weapons being used in Falloojeh. The city has literally been burnt and bombed to the ground. Many of the people displaced from the city are asking to be let back in, in spite of everything. I can't even begin to imagine how difficult it must be for the refugees. It's like we've turned into another Palestine- occupation, bombings, refugees, death. Sometimes I'll be watching the news and the volume will be really low. The scene will be of a man, woman or child, wailing in front of the camera; crying at the fate of a body lying bloodily, stiffly on the ground- a demolished building in the background and it will take me a few moments to decide the location of this tragedy- Falloojeh? Gaza? Baghdad?