That refugee crisis? Well, ge finally got one
TENT CITY The number of Shiite families in
refugee camps is growing. About 14,000 families
have been displaced.
Votes Counted. Deals Made. Chaos Wins.
By DEXTER FILKINS
Published: April 30, 2006
THE country's new leaders were only five days into their jobs Thursday morning, when a BMW filled with armed men pulled alongside a van carrying the sister of Iraq's new Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi. The men opened fire, killing Maysoon al-Hashemi, a 61-year-old grandmother.
Just two weeks before, Mr. Hashemi's brother Mahmoud, a father of six, was shot to death in a similar way. At his sister's funeral service Thursday, Mr. Hashemi walked behind her coffin and looked on as his men lifted it into an S.U.V. that then carried her to Martyrs' Cemetery in northern Baghdad. The silver-haired Mr. Hashemi turned and walked away, his head hung low. "Let's go back, guys," he said to his men. Ms. Hashemi's murder offered not just another reminder of the horrible sacrifices made by so many Iraqis who have signed on to the American-backed democratic project here. It also highlighted what has become the single most confounding paradox of Iraq's and America's three-year-old war: that the democratic process, seen as the main hope for ending the violence, has been unable to stop it. Two constitutions, two elections and a referendum later, Iraq is reeling toward more chaos, not less.
The Iraqis who gathered last week around the newly chosen prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, said they saw a fresh chance to bind the communities back together and put the country on a path toward normalcy. Indeed, a sense of relief pervaded the offices of Iraqi officials, who had finally broken a deadlock over results of popular elections that took place more than four months ago.
But the question hanging over the parliamentary votes last weekend was whether the elected leaders, most of them now barricaded inside the protected Green Zone, could do anything to stop the slide toward anarchy and civil war. Two years' worth of dealmaking by Iraq's elites has proved largely irrelevant to the realities unfolding on the ground.
In northern Baghdad, Shiite families arrive regularly at the Muamal Sadr refugee camp, fleeing the ethnic cleansing that is transforming the mixed cities around Baghdad. Four months ago, the camp was a vacant lot; today, about 150 families live there, many of them in tents provided by the government.
One of the newly arrived is Kharmut Hanoon, a 40-year-old farmer from Abu Ghraib, who said he abandoned his home and a pair of wheat fields a month ago after gunmen driving Opel sedans started killing Shiites in his neighborhood. "They just drive by and shoot you," he said.
Now, Mr. Hanoon and 14 relatives share a pair of tents at the camp. "Can you imagine that anyone would ever leave his home, for any reason?" sighed Mr. Hanoon, waving a cigarette. "Only bad people and gypsies live in tents."
Mr. Hanoon said the ugliness that forced him to flee was not a passing phenomenon, but the final measure of Iraq's Sunnis. When he packed his belongings and prepared to leave, he said, not a single one of his Sunni neighbors stopped by to say goodbye.
"It's in their genes," he said. "It's a disease. They hate the Shiites. I don't think things will ever go back to normal between Shiites and Sunnis."
According to the Iraqi government, about 14,000 families — probably close to 100,000 people — have been displaced by the violence. More than 80 percent, the government said, are Shiites. About 2,000 Iraqis have been killed since the Askariya Shrine, a holy Shiite mosque in Samarra, was destroyed in a bombing two months ago.
Iraqis are urban people. They live in cities and towns. For them to live in tents is like you living in a tent instead of a house. Something very bad has happened. We can bullshit and pretend and create all kind of fake good news from Iraq, but if this isn't a civil war, what the fuck happened in the Congo when people fled for their lives? An election?
Filkins is way too kind. Elites? Try exiles who now want to play at government while people die in the process. This is about a puppet government in the Green Zone and no government outside it.
Voting only works if the government works. Elections don't mean shit if you can't walk the street without a gun
This is going to come undone really soon. How long can Sadr and SCIRI watch their people live in tents like "bad people".
posted by Steve @ 8:02:00 AM