Another day in Iraq
Pissed off Iraqis
As Americans Adapt to Protect Themselves, Civilians Pay Dearly
By JOHN F. BURNS
Published: February 27, 2005
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 26 - It was a bright, warm afternoon down by the Tigris River in central Baghdad on Saturday, the kind of day that hints at the end of winter and the beginning of spring.
Then the intimidators came, quickly and murderously, and another of the city's historic institutions was left to mourn its dead and ponder the price that is being paid daily in the effort to build what American officials, and their Iraqi allies, refer to as the "new Iraq."
The killers came at 3 p.m. to the Daniel cloth market in the Naher district, a place that was central to Jewish commercial life in the centuries before the 1950's, when Baghdad was home to a large Jewish population. Entering the covered market, the armed men headed straight for the shops of Arab merchants selling a fabric used to make uniforms for the new Iraqi Army.
Four men were questioned about sales to the military and then shot to death, three of them in their shops and the fourth after being led out into the street, witnesses said. The killers fled.
About 45 minutes later, nearly a mile back from the river in eastern Baghdad, a Shiite cleric visiting the capital from the holy city of Karbala was shot to death in the street by men who leaped from a car without license plates. Again, the killers fled. The cleric was identified by Interior Ministry officials as Muhammad Abdul Razzaq al-Mussawi, secretary general of the Muslim Clerics' Association in Karbala, an influential group that was active in Iraq's assembly elections last month.
In other ways, Saturday was a typical day in Iraq at war.
About 9 a.m., a suicide bomber driving a German-made Opel drove up to an American armored column on a road in western Baghdad that runs past the Mother of All Battles mosque, built by Saddam Hussein to commemorate the Persian Gulf war in 1991.
The suicide bomber detonated his vehicle alongside an American M1 Abrams tank but succeeded in killing only himself and two Iraqi civilians, who later lay slumped in their shrapnel-punctured car at the scene.
The bomber caused "minimal damage," the American command said in a statement.
American military spokesmen say the tactics they have adopted to protect against suicide bombers, including shooting to kill drivers who ignore hand signals and warning shots to stay away from military convoys, have resulted in an increasing number of attacks that kill civilians but spare Americans.
In Anbar Province in western Iraq, a stronghold of the insurgents that accounts for about a third of the country's area, an American marine was killed in action on Friday, according to a Marine statement that, following standard practice, gave no details.
The marine's death raised the number of Americans killed in 48 hours to six, including three Army soldiers who died Friday when a patrol in the town of Tarmiya, 30 miles north of Baghdad, was struck by a roadside bomb.
Another car bomb exploded late Saturday morning in the Musayyib district about 40 miles south of Baghdad, killing an Iraqi soldier and wounding three others. An Interior Ministry spokesman said the bombing was directed toward an Iraqi Army raid against people suspected of being insurgents in the area around Musayyib. The district is one of a string of mixed Sunni and Shiite communities on a major highway south of Baghdad where insurgents have come under heavy pressure from American and Iraqi troops. The ministry said the raid captured 12 suspects, including a leader, whom it did not identify.
In northern Iraq, a major oil pipeline was ablaze for much of Saturday after saboteurs detonated a bomb on Friday night on a line connecting the Dibis oil fields with the city of Kirkuk, about 20 miles to the east. The attack was one of dozens that have disrupted Iraq's oil exports, costing billions of dollars and contributing to backups at gas stations across Iraq.
Well one thing Iraqis did besides die waa protest the influence of the Jews in their country, by demanding Thursday off instead of Saturday.
Iraq students protest having Saturday off
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqis are complaining about their first-ever weekend break, and some high-school students even went to class Saturday to protest a decision introducing a second weekly day off that coincides with the Jewish Sabbath.
It's not that the Iraqis do not want time off - they just want the extra day moved to Thursday.
"We don't want Saturday! It's a Jewish holiday!" students chanted as they marched in protest last week to the governor's office in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.
A high-school student pulled out a hand grenade and started waving it, and police fired into the air to disperse the crowd. At least three students reportedly were injured in the ensuing scuffle.
At Baghdad's University of Mustansariyah, a statement issued by a student union believed to be allied with the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr described Saturday as "the Zionist holiday" and said the government order should not be followed.
"We declare a general strike in the University of Mustansariyah to reject this decision and any decision aimed at depriving Iraqis of their identity," the statement said.
In predominantly Sunni Muslim Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, the al-Mutawakal high school opened its doors after insurgents threatened to kill its teachers if they took the day off.
There is no clear-cut rule for weekends in the Middle East and other Muslim countries in the region.
"We can't be like Jews. Saturday is a Jewish holiday and I hope the government listens to us," sixth-grader Nada Alwan, said.
The influential Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, believed to be close to the insurgency, said that by making Saturday a weekend "the invaders, the occupiers are trying to impose their principles" on Iraq.
"This decision is dangerous," it said.
In Samarra, one teacher said on condition of anonymity that he had received death threats from militants warning him not to take Saturdays off.
In Ramadi, the heart of the insurgency in the so-called Sunni Triangle, the head of Anbar University decided to change the weekend on its own.
"The official weekend is Thursday and Friday," the university announced.
All kids like to protest with hand grenades.
Iraq-the news democracy, where anti-semitism and overreactive violence goes hand in hand.
posted by Steve @ 12:44:00 AM