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Friday, January 19, 2007

Gunpoint at Democracy


Andrea Parhamovich in an undated photograph.
Ms. Parhamovich was killed Wednesday in the
ambush of a convoy in Baghdad.

Ambush Kills an American Teaching Democracy to Iraqis

By DAMIEN CAVE
Published: January 19, 2007

BAGHDAD, Jan. 18 — An American woman killed here on Wednesday when gunmen fired on her convoy of vehicles was ambushed just minutes after leaving the headquarters of a prominent Sunni Arab political party, where she had been teaching a class on democracy, party members said Thursday

They said the woman — Andrea Parhamovich, 28, of Perry, Ohio — left the party’s fortified compound in western Baghdad around 4 p.m., heading east to her group’s offices outside the Green Zone, when she and her armed guards came under attack from all sides.

Les Campbell, Middle East and North Africa director for the National Democratic Institute, which hired Ms. Parhamovich about three months ago, said that during the fierce firefight, guards tried to escape, fought back, then called for reinforcements from other private security contractors.

The attackers — perhaps as many as 30 men, according to witness accounts passed on to Mr. Campbell — used heavy weapons, possibly rocket-propelled grenades, destroying the armored sedan that Ms. Parhamovich was in and killing three of her armed guards: a Croatian, a Hungarian and an Iraqi. Two other security contractors were wounded. The attackers then scattered back into the neighborhood.

Saleem Abdullah, a senior member of the Sunni political group, the Iraqi Islamic Party, said that Ms. Parhamovich’s group might have been chosen as a target when it arrived. “It seems that someone, when they saw her in the area, set up an ambush,” he said. “That’s what we think.”

Mr. Campbell described Ms. Parhamovich as a driven young woman, inspired by politics and a desire to help Iraqis connect with their newly elected government.

He said she joined the National Democratic Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Washington that has worked in Iraq since 2003, after working for a few months with a similar group in Baghdad.

“She was an idealistic person who saw an opportunity in Iraq to help, to work with people in Iraq who were interested in democracy and human rights, which is what she cared about,” he said.

Andi Parhamovich was a former Air America staffer and her death was taken especially hard there.

And while I am sympathetic to her friends who grieve her loss, I have to wonder what kind of democracy you can build with mercenaries.

Does anyone expect an election to take place in Iraq in the next few years? The National Democratic Institute really, really needs to rethink their field operations in Iraq. She rode into an ambush which would make a SF A team proud. 30 guys came at them guns blazing and killed a bunch of people.

Now how did that happen?

Do you think that a certain shia militia might have had issues with this? That they may have objected to helping a Sunni political party?

I think the NGO's who remain need to get a grip on reality. Hiring mercenaries, living in foritified compounds, being ambushed, if not stalked, then ambushed, is not going to help people. It will, however, get people killed.

The brutal reality is that the only voting in Iraq will be to comfirm whoever Sadr chooses as president.

posted by Steve @ 12:49:00 AM

12:49:00 AM

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