Iraq Theater

Baghdad gets "Apartheid Wall"

It seems Baghdad's occupiers are emulating those of Palestine. The city now has a "security fence" cordoning off the Green Zone, mirroring Israel's "Apartheid Wall." An excerpt from a story carried by the July 5 New York Times:

Iraqis call it Assur, the Fence. In English everyone calls it the Wall, and in the past two years it has grown and grown until it has become an almost continuous rampart, at least 16km in circumference, around the seat of US power in Baghdad.

Iraqi troops train in Norway

Rumsfeld's visit to Norway reveals that Iraqi officers are being trained by NATO in this Nordic country. Who knew? This from the Pentagon news site Defenselink:

NATO's Iraqi, ISAF Training Site in Norway Hosts Rumsfeld Visit
STAVANGER, Norway, June 8, 2005 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld today visited NATO's Joint Warfare Center here, where Iraqi troops and international forces in NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan have trained.

Al-Zarqawi: I'm alive

An audiotape attributed to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most wanted man in Iraq, has surfaced on an Islamist website claiming that he is only "lightly wounded." The tape emerged after a week of speculation about the health of the man Osama bin Laden has identified as his deputy, which began when rebels posted a message on the internet asking those loyal to the insurgency to pray for his health.

Conscientious objector gets hard labor—but no jail time

U.S. Navy conscientious objecotr Pablo Paredes was sentenced to three months hard labor May 13 for refusing deployment to the Persian Gulf. He was also demoted from petty officer third class to seaman recruit, the lowest rank in the Navy. His lawyers call it a victory for war resisters around the country. Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Paredes to nine months of confinement and a bad conduct discharge. (Democracy Now, May 13)

Conscientious objectors face court martial

Navy Petty Officer Pablo Paredes, a Bronx native who refused to board the USS Bonhomme Richard as it was preparing to sail from San Diego in December, was convicted by a Navy judge on a charge of missing his deployment to Iraq. He faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison, a bad conduct discharge, loss of two thirds of his pay and a demotion. Paredes reported to the Navy pier the morning of Dec. 6, but refused to board and was told to go away. After 45 minutes on the pier, he did. He surrendered to military authorities on Dec. 18 after applying for conscientious objector status. The Navy denied his request. That ruling is being appealed. Thomas Jefferson School of Law Professor Marjorie Cohn, an international law specialist, said Paredes had acted from principle. "He said, 'I don't want to be a war criminal,'" she recalled. "He was very concerned about the deaths of more than a thousand American servicemen and women, and of thousands of Iraqis." (Reuters, May 11)


(And Can the U.S. Anti-War Movement Help?)

by Bill Weinberg

The anti-war movement in the U.S. is at its lowest ebb since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. Two broad, mutually hostile tendencies have emerged: one increasingly supportive of the armed resistance, the other increasingly equivocal about supporting an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces. They hold separate marches (as they did in New York City on May 1) for which they marshal radically diminishing numbers. They seem equally oblivious to their manifest inability to meaningfully communicate with the general populace, and equally uninterested in meaningfully engaging the Iraqi people they claim to support.

True freedom fighter killed in Iraq

From the San Francisco Chronicle, April 18:

A car bomb attack near Baghdad has killed a well-known activist from Northern California who entered war zones to record civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan and secure aid for those caught in the crossfire.

Marla Ruzicka, 28, of Lakeport (Lake County), founder of CIVIC -- Campaign for Innocent Victims of Conflict -- died with her driver on the Baghdad Airport road Saturday when a suicide bomber attacked a convoy of security contractors that was passing next to her vehicle, according to her family and news reports quoting U.S. Embassy officials in Iraq.


A children's story some adults could stand to read

by Padraic O'Neil

A True Story from Iraq
Written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter
Harcourt Books, 2005

With bold, vibrant colors framing dramatic images, and in language direct and unadorned, Jeanette Winter tells the astonishing tale of Alia Muhammad Baker. As the chief librarian of Basra's central library, she salvaged 30,000 books from the wreckage of war.

According to New York Times journalist Shalia K. Dewan, whose work was the inspiration for this welcome children's book, "Alia Muhammad Baker's house is full of books. There are books in stacks, books in the cupboards, books bundled in the flour sacks like lumpy aid rations. Books fill an old refrigerator. Pull aside a window curtain, and there is no view, just more books." Books on the history of Iraq's civilizations, on Islam and literature, on "the finer points of Arabic grammar and the art of telling time."

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