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Iraq | International

Endless Suffering, U.S. Military Terrorism
by Dahr Jamail (repost)
Friday Apr 23rd, 2004 2:35 PM
Dahr Jamail is Baghdad correspondent for The NewStandard. He is an Alaskan devoted to covering the untold stories from occupied Iraq. You can help Dahr continue his crucial work in Iraq by making donations. For more information or to donate to Dahr, visit The NewStandard.
I noticed myself last night during a radio interview reporting that things in Baghdad lately have been relatively calm. Relatively. It’s funny what we get used to, what we adapt to and normalize.

Here is what “relatively calm” looks like in Baghdad on a daily basis-using the last 24 hours as an example. Early this morning I was awakened by a huge explosion quite a distance off. Far away, yet large enough to wake me and shake my bed, followed by a couple of smaller explosions. Nearly every time a bomb goes off, people are killed.

There is sporadic gunfire every night--this in one of the better areas of central Baghdad. Several friends of mine who live in Adhamiyah district report that on a nightly basis the U.S. base there in the Adhamiyah Palace is bombed by mortars. This is the same area where a South African mercenary was shot dead yesterday.

Aside from the mercenary being killed (reported by the corporate media as a South African “civilian”), I haven’t seen any of the bombs nor gunfire reported.

Then there is always the less obvious toll of the occupation upon the Iraqi people, as far as the news is concerned. The suffering is everywhere. Anyone traveling outside the “Green Zone” cannot help but have it thrust in their face. Begging women and children on the streets, people with disabilities sitting legless near buildings holding out their hands for a few dinars.

Nearly every car on the street looks as though it has been pulled from a scrap yard. The electricity blinks on and off, and if you are lucky, you have heated running water for a shower.

Stay here long enough and it inevitably hits closer to home. Emad is a middle-aged man with a kind heart who works at our apartment. He is always cleaning, treating us as though we were in a five star hotel-even though the accommodations couldn’t be any further from this. He never lets one of us walk up the stairs carrying anything--sweating and breathing heavily he insists on carrying whatever groceries or bags we might be holding.

A few days ago he told me his wife needed an operation, but he didn’t have enough money for it. He explained that it was $15, and I gave it to him.

This morning Emad is collecting the garbage from the apartments. He is crying. When we ask what is wrong, he tells us that his wife has died of cancer. I hug him, while he is apologizing. He is apologizing! For showing me his grief? For burdening me with his loss?

We take up a collection and give it to him, as he will be off work the next few days for his mourning period.

Another man who is a front desk clerk at a hotel I used to stay at told me his wife has breast cancer. He thinks it is from eating radioactive tomatoes from southern Iraq. Depleted Uranium.

Literally every Iraqi I’ve gotten to know has either a family member or friend who has been killed by U.S. soldiers or the effects of war/occupation, such as Depleted Uranium, not enough money for proper medical care due to 70% unemployment, or another of the myriad of effects caused by the aforementioned.

Meanwhile, the heavy-handed tactics of the U.S. military continue to effect people here in other ways, one of which I will discuss in my next blog.

Dahr Jamail is Baghdad correspondent for The NewStandard. He is an Alaskan devoted to covering the untold stories from occupied Iraq. You can help Dahr continue his crucial work in Iraq by making donations. For more information or to donate to Dahr, visit The NewStandard.

http://blog.newstandardnews.net/iraqdispatches/archives/000243.html#more