I see Juan Cole has mentioned this AP article - go read the whole thing first:
Young children fight U.S. troops in Iraq
By ANTONIO CASTANEDA
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Shiite militias are encouraging children - some as young as 6 or 7 - to hurl stones and gasoline bombs at U.S. convoys, hoping to lure American troops into ambushes or provoke them into shooting back, U.S. soldiers say.
Gangs of up to 100 children assemble in Sadr City, stronghold of radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia, and in nearby neighborhoods, U.S. officers said in interviews this week.
Full text of AP article on Yahoo News. Full text of AP article on Seattle PI Intelligencer.
Here's what Juan has to say about the story:
"Speaking of the Mahdi Army militia, AP says that it is now using children against US troops in Sadr City."
I'd love to know what the hell AP thought they were doing circulating this piece of codswallop and I'm astonished that Juan gives it face value. The kindest explanation is that it was written by a reporter who has spent very little time in Iraq and who has never been to al-Thawra before. There's nothing even remotely new about Iraqi kids throwing stones - sometimes quite large stones - at American occupying troops. Talk to anybody who has been part of the occupying forces in any large Iraqi town let alone somewhere the size of Sadr city and they'll tell you that Iraqi kids throw stones at them. Every trip I've taken to Iraq since the Americans invaded I've seen kids, sometimes very young kids, throwing stones at Americans. What the hell do you expect? Treating people who have already suffered apallingly as a result of how your country has behaved as inferior beings is not going to make them like you. I don't doubt for a moment that older boys and adults are encouraging the kids in Sadr city to stone the American troops. Americans are hated in Iraq and are going to continue to hated for a very long time. As to this:
"Other Iraqi adults have been more helpful. After several rocks were thrown at passing U.S. vehicles in Shaab, soldiers followed one child home. When soldiers told his mother what had happened, she slapped her son across the face in front of them."
Excuse me a moment I need to roll around on the floor for a few minutes … … … bwaaaahahahahahaha … … … phew I needed that. Antonio old chum you're an eedjit. I couldn't resist sending the complete text of your article to every single Iraqi I know this morning with that paragraph bolded and increased in size:
Their unanimous reaction was the same as mine. She slapped his face for being thick witted enough to get caught not for chucking stones at your troops. Three of them reminded me of what I said back in March when discussing al-Amarah:
"Actually the stone throwing mob consisted almost entirely of children. Did I mention that Al Amarah's kind of an old-fashioned place and that adults there have kind of old-fashioned ideas about parental discipline?
Al Amarah's kind of an old-fashioned place, adults there have kind of old-fashioned ideas about parental discipline - you can take it that those children's parents were considerably less than disapproving of their children being part of that stone throwing mob.
"Al Amarah, on the river Tigris, south of Baghdad, has been the scene of trouble before, with both local rioting and insurgent attacks.
The fact is that from the shortly after the British arrived to "take control of Al Amarah there's been repeated rioting, shooting at troops, attempts to bomb British convoys, and attacks on their compound at Camp Abu Naji* outside the town. The invaders aren't popular, invaders rarely are. "