Baghdad, Iraq -- Before the Iraq war, at a meeting of the Arab League, Secretary General Amr Moussa famously said that a U.S. war on Iraq would "open the gates of hell."
In Iraq, those gates are yawning wider than they ever have before -- at least for the United States.
"Sunni and Shi'a are now one hand, together against the Americans," . . .
We're being told a convenient and self-serving story about those events. In that story, a few barbaric "isolated extremists" from the "Saddamist stronghold" of Falluja killed four contractors who were guarding food convoys in an act of unprovoked lawlessness. Moqtada al-Sadr is fighting the U.S. forces right now because, in the words of George Bush, he decided that "rather than allow democracy to flourish, he's going to exercise force."
The truth is rather different. Falluja, although heavily Sunni Arab, was hardly in Saddam's pocket. Its imams got into trouble for refusing to obey his orders to praise him personally during prayers. Many inhabitants were Salafists (Wahhabism is a subset of Salafism), a group singled out for political persecution by Saddam.
In fact, during the war, Falluja was not a hotbed of resistance. Its turn to resistance started on April 28, when U.S. troops opened fire on a group of 100 to 200 peaceful protesters, killing 15. They claimed they were returning gunfire, but Human Rights Watch investigated and found that the bullet holes in the area were inconsistent with that story -- and, furthermore, every Iraqi witness maintained that the crowd was unarmed. Two days later, another three protesters were killed. . . .
The most recent incident, in which four mercenaries from Blackwater Security, a company formed by ex-Navy Seals (Blackwater people are performing many of the same functions as soldiers in Iraq and do get involved in combat), did not arise in a vacuum. In fact, just the week before, U.S. Marines had mounted heavy raids on Fallujah, killing at least seven civilians, including a cameraman. Residents spoke of this as the reason for the attack on the Blackwater people and the gruesome spectacle that followed. . . .
In general, there is no quicker way to get an Iraqi to laugh than to talk about how the United States is bringing freedom or democracy to the country. Shaykh Sadun al-Shemary, a former member of the Iraqi army who participated in the 1991 uprising and now a spokesman for the al-Sadr organization in Shuala, told me, "Things are exactly the same as in Saddam's time -- maybe worse." . . .
That is all you need to know about the occupation of Iraq.