Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Front Page News

UK Independent June 20 2006What Juan Cole decscribes as "The Embassy Document" published by the Washington Post last Sunday continues to resonate [A full transcription with typos corrected is on Informed Comment here the original PDF can be found here.] Today's UK Indepent has it as front page news.

The ugly truth about everyday life in Baghdad (by the US ambassador)
A leaked cable from the US embassy in Iraq to Condoleezza Rice shows the country falling apart and ruled by militias.

The paper prints most of the memo as its lede and then continues its coverage with this analysis from their Baghdad correspondent Patrick Cockburn.



Leaked memo reveals plight of Iraqis By Patrick Cockburn
Published: 20 June 2006

A leaked cable from the US embassy in Baghdad signed by the ambassador paints a grim picture of Iraq as a country disintegrating in which the real rulers are the militias, and the central government counts for nothing.
Iraqis employed by the US embassy live in fear that other Iraqis will find out who they are working for. "We have begun shredding documents printed out that show local staff surnames," the cable says. "In March a few staff approached us to ask what provisions would we make for them if we evacuate."
The US and Britain have said they would withdraw their troops as the security situation improved, though the embassy memo suggests that it was, in fact, deteriorating. Britain said yesterday that it was to pull out 170 soldiers from Muthana province in southern Iraq when the Iraqi government took over security there next month.

[snip]

The vulnerability of the US position in Baghdad is so great that the Iraqi military units guarding the perimeter of the Green Zone, the heart of US power in Iraq, are now considered untrustworthy.

An Iraqi employee asked if she could have credentials saying she was a journalist. This was because the Iraqi soldiers would hold up "her embassy badge and proclaim loudly to nearby passers-by 'Embassy' as she entered. Such information is a death sentence if overheard by the wrong people.
"

[snip]

As Islamic militancy increases, women find it increasingly dangerous not to wear a veil in Sunni and Shia neighbourhoods. One was warned not to drive a car. Others were told to cover their faces and to stop using mobile phones. Threats against women who do not accept this second class status have escalated in the last two months. It has also become dangerous for men to wear shorts or jeans in public or for children to play outside wearing shorts.

[snip]

The cable admits that the unpopularity of the American presence in Iraq is the reason why Iraqis working for the US dare not reveal the identity of their employer even to family. One Sunni Arab woman who was sent for training in the US told her family she was in Jordan.
The embassy reports increased sectarian tensions between Iraqi members of its staff. A Shia woman said she could no longer watch the television news with her Sunni mother because her mother blamed the Shia government for everything that went wrong.
The government of Nouri al-Maliki, greeted with such acclaim by the US and Britain, has little impact on ordinary Iraqis because real power lies with militias and local power brokers. It is they who barricade the streets at night and ward off outsiders.

All emphases added by me. A key difference between the UK and the US is that in the UK a majority of the populaton were always against the Iraq war and are even more vehemently opposed to occupation.


markfromireland

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