Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Anatomy Of A Massacre A Special Report By Robert Fisk

Marwahin, 15 July 2006: The anatomy of a massacre
A special report by Robert Fisk
Published: 30 September 2006 UK Independent

In antiquity, Pliny wrote of the cliffs of Bayada. The chalk runs down to the Mediterranean in an almost Dover-like cascade of white rock, and the view from the top - just below the little Lebanese village of Chama'a - is breathtaking. To the south lies the United Nations headquarters and the Israeli frontier, to the north the city of Tyre, its long promentary, built by Alexander the Great, lunging out into the green-blue sea. A winding, poorly-made road runs down to the shore below Chama'a and for some reason - perhaps because he had caught sight of the Israeli warship off the coast - 58-year-old Ali Kemal Abdullah took a right turn above the Mediterranean on the morning of 15 July. In the open-topped pick-up behind him, Ali had packed 27 Lebanese refugees, most of them children. Twenty-three of them were to die within the next 15 minutes.

The tragedy of these poor young people and of their desperate attempts to survive their repeated machine-gunning from the air is as well-known in Lebanon as it is already forgotten abroad. War crimes are easy to talk about when they have been committed in Rwanda or Bosnia; less so in Lebanon, especially when the Israelis are involved. But all the evidence suggests that what happened on this blissfully lovely coastline two and a half months ago was a crime against humanity, one that is impossible to justify on any military grounds since the dead and wounded were fleeing their homes on the express orders of the Israelis themselves.

Mohamed Abdullah understands the reality of that terrible morning because his 52-year-old wife Zahra, his sons Hadi, aged six, and 15-year-old Wissam, and his daughters, Marwa, aged 10, and 13-year old Myrna, were in the pick-up. Zahra was to die. So was Hadi and the beautiful little girl Myrna whose photograph - with immensely intelligent, appealing eyes - now haunts the streets of Marwahin. Wissam, a vein in his leg cut open by an Israeli missile as he vainly tried to save Myrna's life, sits next to his father as he talks to me outside their Beirut house, its walls drenched in black cloth.

"From the day of the attack until now, lots of delegations have come to see us," Mohamed says. "They all talk and it is all for nothing. My problem is with a huge nation. Can the international community get me my rights? I am a weak person, unprotected. I am a 53-year-old man and I've been working as a soldier for 29 years, day and night, to be productive and to support a family that can serve society and that can be a force for good in this country. I was able to build a home in my village for my wife and children - with no help from anyone - and I did this in 2000, 23 years after I was driven out of Marwahin and I finished our new home this year." And here Mohamed Abdullah stops speaking and cries.

Marwahin is one of a string of villages opposite the Israeli border and, unlike many others further north, is inhabited by Sunni Muslim Lebanese, followers of the assassinated former prime minister Rafiq Hariri rather than the Shiite-dominated Hizbollah militia, which is supported and supplied by Syria and Iran. Most Sunnis blame Syria for Hariri's murder on 14 February last year.

While no friends of Israel, the Sunni community in Lebanon - especially the few thousand Sunnis of Marwahin who are so close to the frontier that they can see the red roofs of the nearest Jewish settlement - are no threat to Israel. For generations, they have intermarried - which is why most of the people in this tragedy hold the family name of al-Abdullah or Ghanem - and, had their parents been born a few hundred metres further south, they would - like the Sunni Muslim Palestinians who lived there until 1948 - have fled to the refugee camps of Lebanon when Israel was created.

Mohamed recalls with immense tiredness how his wife took his children south from Beirut to their family home in Marwahin on 9 July this year. The date is important because just three days later, Hizbollah members would cross the Israeli border, capture two Israeli soldiers and kill three others - five more were to die in a minefield later the same day - and Israel would respond with 34 days of air-strikes and bombardments that killed more than 1,000 Lebanese civilians. Hizbollah missiles would kill fewer than 200 Israelis, most of them soldiers.

Just down the hill from Marwahin, on Israeli territory, stands a tall radio transmission tower and on the morning of 15 July, the Israelis used loudspeakers on the tower to order the villagers to flee their homes. Survivors describe how they visited two nearby UN posts to appeal for protection, one manned by four members of the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organisation - set up after the 1948 war with Israel - and the other by Ghanaian soldiers of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, the same army which, much expanded with French, Italian, Turkish and Chinese troops, is now supposed to police the latest ceasefire in southern Lebanon. Both the UNTSO men and the Ghanaians read the rule-book at the villagers of Marwahin. Ever since the Israelis attacked the UNIFIL barracks at Qana in 1996, slaughtering 106 Lebanese refugees - again, most of them children - the UN has been under orders not to allow civilians into their bases. The UN, it seems, can talk mightily of the need to protect the innocent, f but will do precious little to shield them in southern Lebanon.

Mohamed's four children had travelled south with their mother to buy furniture for their newly-built home; their father and his six other children in Beirut were to join them the following week.

"When the Israeli soldiers were taken, the airport closed down and all the roads became dangerous," Mohamed says. "But the mobile phones still worked and I had constant conversations with my wife. I asked her what was happening in the village. She said the Israelis were bombing in the fields around the village but not in the village itself. She had no car and anyway it was too dangerous to travel on the roads. On 13 and 14 July, we spoke six or seven times. She was asking about those of our children who were with me. You see, she had heard that Beirut had been bombed so we were worried about each other."

Mohamed's calvary began when he turned to the Arabia television station on the morning of the 15th. "I heard that the people of Marwahin had been ordered by the Israelis to leave their homes within two hours. I tried to call my wife and children but I couldn't get through. Then after half an hour, Zahra called me to say she was in the neighbouring village of Um Mtut and that people had gone to the UN to seek help and been turned away."

Mohamed insists - though other villagers do not agree with this - that while the UN were turning the civilians away, a van drove into Marwahin containing missiles. The driver was a member of Hizbollah, he says, and its registration number was 171364 (Lebanese registrations have no letters). If this is true, it clearly created a "crisis" - to use Mohamed al-Abdullah's word - in the village. Certainly, once the ceasefire came into place 32 days later, there was a damaged van beside the equally damaged village mosque with a missile standing next to it. Human rights investigators are unclear of the date of the van's arrival but seem certain that it was attacked by the Israelis - probably by an air-fired rocket - after Marwahin was evacuated.

In her last conversation with her husband, Zahra told Mohamed that the four children were having breakfast in a neighbour's house in Um Mtut. "I told her to stay with these people," Mohamed recalls. "I said that if all the civilians were together, they would be protected. My brother-in-law, Ali Kemal al-Abdullah, had a small pick-up and they could travel in this." First to leave Marwahin was a car driven by Ahmed Kassem who took his children with him and promised to telephone from Tyre if he reached the city safely. He called a couple of hours later to say the road was OK and that he had reached Tyre. "That's when Ali put his children and my children and his own grandchildren in the pick-up. There were 27 people, almost 20 of them children."

Ali Kemal drove north from Marwahin, away from the Israeli border, then west towards the sea. He must have seen the Israeli warship and the Israeli naval crew certainly saw Ali's pick-up. The Israelis had been firing at all vehicles on the roads of southern Lebanon for three days - they hit dozens of civilian cars as well as ambulances and never once explained their actions except to claim that they were shooting at "terrorists". At a corner of the road, where it descends to the sea, Ali Kemal suddenly realised his vehicle was overheating and he pulled to a halt. This was a dangerous place to break down. For seven minutes, he tried to restart the pick-up.

According to Mohamed's son Wissam, Ali - whose elderly mother Sabaha was sitting beside him in the front - turned to the children with the words: "Get out, all you children get out and the Israelis will realise we are civilians." The first two or three children had managed to climb out the back when the Israeli warship fired a shell that exploded in the cab of the pick-up, killing Ali and Sabaha instantly. "I had almost been able to jump from the vehicle -- my mother had told me to jump before the ship hit us," Wissam says. "But the pressure of the explosion blew me out when I had only one leg over the railing and I was wounded. There was blood everywhere."

Within a few seconds, Wissam says, an Israeli Apache helicopter arrived over the f vehicle, very low and hovering just above the children. "I saw Myrna still in the pick-up and she was crying and pleading for help. I went to get her and that's when the helicopter hit us. Its missile hit the back of the vehicle where all the children were and I couldn't hear anything because the blast had damaged my ears. Then the helicopter fired a rocket into the car behind the pick-up. But the pilot must have seen what he was doing. He could see we were mostly children. The pick-up didn't have a roof. All the children were crammed in the back and clearly visible."

Wissam talks slowly but without tears as he describes what happened next. "I lost sight of Myrna. I just couldn't see her any more for the dust flying around. Then the helicopter came back and started firing its guns at the children, at any of them who moved. I ran away behind a tel [a small hill] and lay there and pretended to be dead because I knew the pilot would kill me if I moved. Some of the children were in bits."

Wissam is correct about the mutilations. Hadi was burned to death in Zahra's arms. She died clutching his body to her. Two small girls - Fatmi and Zainab Ghanem - were blasted into such small body parts that they were buried together in the same grave after the war was over. Other children lay wounded by the initial shell burst and rocket explosions as the helicopter attacked them again. Only four survived, Wissam and his sister Marwa among them, hearing the sound of bullets as they "played dead" amid the corpses.

His father Mohamed heard on the radio that a pick-up had been attacked by the Israelis at Bayada, perhaps 10km from Marwahin. "When I heard that the driver was Ali Kemal al-Abdullah, I knew - I knew - that my children were on that truck," he says, "because my brother-in-law would not have left them behind. He would have taken them with him. I had another brother in Tyre and I called him. He had heard the same news and was waiting at the hospital. He said it was too dangerous to travel from Beirut to Tyre. He said that my family were only wounded. I said that if they were only wounded, I wanted to speak to them. I spoke to Marwa. She said Wissam was in the operating theatre. I asked to speak to the others. My brother just said: 'Later.'"

No one who has travelled the roads of southern Lebanon under Israeli air attack can underestimate the dangers. But Mohamed and his nephew Khalil decided to make the run to Tyre in the afternoon. "We just drove fast, all the way," Mohamed remembers. "I got to the Hiram hospital and I found Ali, my brother, waiting for me. I saw Marwa and I asked about her mother and Hadi and Myrna and she said: 'I saw them in the pick-up, sleeping. When the ship hit us, I was blown out of the vehicle. Afterwards, I saw Mummy and my brother sleeping.'" Marwa told Mohamed that she had run from the pick-up with her 19-year-old cousin Zeinab.

When Mohamed drove to the city hospital in Tyre in search of Zahra, Hadi and Myrna, his brother refused to travel with him. "At this point, I knew there was something wrong. So I went to the hospital on my own and I found my wife and children in the fridge. It was a horrible shock. To this day, I feel like I am dreaming. And I cannot believe what happened. No one came to ask me about Marwa or Wissam who lost a vein in his leg. It seems no one knows that this house has martyrs."

Before the ceasefire in southern Lebanon, Mohamed was called to say that the medical authorities in Tyre wished to bury the dead of Marwahin temporarily in a mass grave. He attended their burial and returned to his much-battered village on 15 August - just over a month after his wife and two children were killed and in time for their final interment on 24 August. He found his house partially destroyed in the Israeli bombardment along with the van and its Hizbollah rockets. "Every day is worse than the one before for me," Mohamed says.

And he blames the world. The UN for giving no protection to his family, Hizbollah's "vanity" in starting a war with a more powerful enemy and the Israelis for destroying the life of his family. "Is Israel in a state of war with children? We need an answer, a response to f this question. We ask for a trial for this Israeli pilot who killed the children. He is a war criminal because he killed innocents for no reason. And what has happened? The south has been destroyed. The people were massacred. The Israelis were back on the soil of my land. I could see them when we buried Zahra and Hadi and Myrna. How can I lose my children and then see the Israelis here? We are ignored by the government and treated with neglect by the media and the political parties - including the Hizbollah - who were the cause of what happened."

Almost all the "martyr" pictures of the dead of Marwahin contain a ghostly photograph of Rafiq Hariri, the mightest Sunni Muslim of them all, who was assassinated last year. The martyrs of Marwahin have become identified with a man who sought peace rather than war with Israel. But at the graveyard on the edge of the tobacco-growing village, there is no end to mourning. I found two old women sitting beside the graves, weeping and beating themselves and pulling at their hair. One of them was Ali Kemal's wife.

Adel Abdullah took me round the graves. His sister-in-law Mariam lies in one of them, her body still containing the unborn child she was carrying when she died. So are her five children, Ali, 14, Hamad, 12, Hussein, 10, Hassan, eight, and two-year-old Lama.

"This is Myrna," Adel says, patting his hand gently on the concrete surface of the little girl's still unadorned grave. "This is Zahra, her mother, whom we put just behind her. And here is Hadi." The villagers have written their first names in Arabic in the concrete. "There is Naame Ghanem and her two children. And this is the grave of both Fatmi and Zeinab because we could not tell which bits of them belonged together. That is why the 23 dead of Marwahin have only 22 graves."

On the dirt road to the cemetery on the windy little hill above the village, there still lies a face mask worn by the young men carrying the decomposing bodies to their final grave. And just to the left of the dead, clearly visible to the Israeli settlers in their homes across the border, the villagers have left the remains of Ali Kemal Abdullah's Daihatsu pick-up. It is punctured by a hundred shrapnel holes, bent and distorted and burned. The children in this vehicle had no chance, killed outright or smashed to pieces as they lay wounded afterwards.

"If it is right that these people should be martyred in this way, well fine," Adel says to me. "If not, why did this crime take place? Why can't a country - a single country, your country - say that Israel was responsible for a war crime? But no, you are silent." A woman, watching Adel's anger, was more eloquent. "The problem," she said, "is that these poor people belonged to a country called Lebanon and our lives are worth nothing to anyone else. If this had happened in Israel - if all these children were Israeli and the Hizbollah had killed them all with a helicopter - the US president would travel to the cemetery each year for a memorial service and there would be war crimes trials and the world would denounce this crime. But no president is going to come to Marwahin. There will be no trials."

Mohamed al-Abdullah weeps beside his wounded son in Beirut. "I consider this to have been a useless war and with these atrocious massacres it is innocent civilians who paid the price. Those who died are resting but we who are living are paying a price every day. That price is paid by the living who suffer. Why should I pay the price of something I didn't choose? I will say just one thing to you. God have mercy on Rafiq Hariri, a man of education and reconstruction. In God's name, I hope his children walk in his path. My wife loved Sheikh Rafiq so much. In this house, my wife's whole life changed after his assassination. Before, Zahra was not interested in politics but from the day his car was bombed, she listened to the news every day. Before bed, she wanted to hear any news. And she said to me once, 'I hope I don't die, so I will know who killed Rafiq Hariri'."

A UN investigation is still underway into Hariri's murder. An Israeli investigation is to start into the disastrous performance of its army during the war. The Hizbollah still claims it won a "divine victory" in July and August of this year. UNIFIL, which turned the refugees of Marwahin away on 15 July, stated that when they were removing the children's bodies, their soldiers came under fire. Human Rights Watch is still investigating the killings of civilians at Marwahin and other locations and wrote of them before the war ended. "The Israeli military," it said in its initial report, "did not follow its orders [to civilians] to evacuate with the creation of safe passage routes, and on a daily basis Israeli warplanes and helicopters struck civilians in cars who were trying to flee, many with white flags out the windows, a widely accepted sign of civilian status ... On some days, Israeli war planes hit dozens of civilian cars, showing a clear pattern of failing to distinguish between civilian and military objects." International law makes it clear that it is forbidden in any circumstances to carry out direct attacks against civilians and that to do so is a war crime. Human Rights Watch states that "war crimes" include "making the civilian population or individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities the object of attack".

Lama Abdullah was the youngest victim of the Marwahin 23. Ali Kemal's wife Sabaha was in her eighties. At least six of the children were between the ages of one and 10. The Israeli helicopter pilot's name is, of course, unknown.

Source

markfromireland

The March to War: Iran Preparing for US Air Attacks

The March to War: Iran Preparing for US Air Attacks

by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

September 21, 2006 GlobalResearch.ca


Iran is bracing itself for an expected American-led air campaign. The latter is in the advanced stages of military planning.

If there were to be war between the United States and Iran, the aerial campaign would unleash fierce combat. It would be fully interactive on multiple fronts. It would be a difficult battle involving active movement in the air from both sides.

If war were to occur, the estimates of casualties envisaged by American and British war planners would be high.

The expected wave of aerial attacks would resemble the tactics of the Israeli air-war against Lebanon and would follow the same template, but on a larger scale of execution.

The U.S. government and the Pentagon had an active role in graphing, both militarily and politically, the template of confrontation in Lebanon. The Israeli siege against Lebanon is in many regards a dress rehearsal for a planned attack on Iran.

A war against Iran is one that could also include military operations against Syria. Multiple theatres would engulf many of the neighbors of Iran and Syria, including Iraq and Israel/Palestine.

It must also be noted that an attack on Iran would be of a scale which would dwarf the events in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Levant. A full blown war on Iran would not only swallow up and incorporate these other conflicts. It would engulf the entire Middle East and Central Asian region into an extensive confrontation.

An American-led air campaign against Iran, if it were to be implemented, would be both similar and contrasting in its outline and intensity when compared to earlier Anglo-American sponsored confrontations.

Full text of article. Yes you really do need to read it and yes pass the link on. I don't always agree with what I read on global research. This time I do.

Now if you'll excuse me it's late here in Copenhagen and I have to do a respectful knuckling of my sloping brow to Chicago Dyke of Corrente Wire for making me aware of that article's existence before I head off to get some sleep.

markfromireland

Friday, September 29, 2006

Gab Es Keinen Mehr Der Protestieren Konnte

"....If a police barracks is burned or if the barracks already occupied is not suitable, then the best house in the locality is to be commandeered, the occupants thrown into the gutter. Let them die there - the more the merrier. Police and military will patrol the country at least five nights a week. They are not to confine themselves to the main roads, but make across the country, lie in ambush and, when civilians are seen approaching, shout "Hands up!" Should the order be not immediately obeyed, shoot and shoot with effect. If the persons approaching carry their hands in their pockets, or are in any way suspicious-looking, shoot them down. You may make mistakes occasionally and innocent persons may be shot, but that cannot be helped, and you are bound to get the right parties some time. The more you shoot, the better I will like you, and I assure you no policeman will get into trouble for shooting any man ..."

Lt. Col. Smyth division commander of the RIC for Munster

"Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Kommunist.

Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat.

Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten,
habe ich nicht protestiert;
ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter.

Als sie mich holten,
gab es keinen mehr, der protestieren konnte. "

Pastor Niemoller

"AND I say to my people's masters: Beware,
Beware of the thing that is coming, beware of the risen people,
Who shall take what ye would not give. Did ye think to conquer the people,
Or that Law is stronger than life and than men's desire to be free?
We will try it out with you, ye that have harried and held,
Ye that have bullied and bribed, . . . tyrants, hypocrites, liars!"

Padhraic Mac Piarais

Neither I nor any other civilised person will forgive or forget what was done on September 28th 2006. Neither I nor any other civilised person will forgive or forget by whom it was done. There are times when sins of omission are as grave as sins of commission. September 28th 2006 was one of those times. I will not forgive nor will I forget.

markfromireland

Thursday, September 28, 2006

It's Now Official

"Siniora's tears began a process of ridding the South of Israeli soldiers"

Michael Young has now officially and finally gone completely, totally, and irretrievably stark staring raving bonkers mad. Somebody telephone the Home For Demented Orientalists and tell 'em there's another one on the way.

markfromireland

Dr. C.: Mammary Alert!

Dr. C.: Mammary Alert!

I like to think of this sort of thing as evolution in action. The Bush supporters keep up with this sort of thing and they'll be extinct within a generation - it's awfully difficult to pass on your genes if don't know that tab "b" is supposed to fit into slot "a"

markfromireland

Thanks For Painting The School Gate

If you don't fuck off home I'm going to
"No, what I said was:

"Thanks for painting the school gate offendi. Now eff off back to your own country or I'll chuck this grenade we made during chemistry class at you."   "

markfromireland

How To Tell Them Apart

sheep and sheepleNow attend to me because this is important. The sheep are the short ones to the front of the photograph. The sheeple are the ones in the inadequately armoured vehicle towards the back of the photograph. The other difference is that thanks to Yankee Poodle Tony the sheep have a better chance of surviving an attack.

markfromireland

What Was That About Progress Being Made?

refugee camp Baghdad

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Some 80,000 Iraqis have fled their homes and registered with the government as refugees over the past two months, data showed on Thursday, taking the total in seven months of sectarian violence to a quarter of a million.

A spokesman for the Migration Ministry, Sattar Nowruz, told Reuters that figures for the end of September showed that more than 40,000 families were claiming aid after leaving homes since February 22, when the destruction of a major Shi'ite shrine at Samarra sparked heavy and continuing sectarian bloodshed.

The ministry estimates the average Iraqi family at six people, giving a current total of more than 240,000 people compared to 27,000 families and 162,000 people at the end of July. Nowruz acknowledged that many more people do not register with the ministry or have fled abroad, and so are not counted.

"The reason for this increase is that the security situation in some provinces has deteriorated considerably, forcing people to flee their homes in fear for their lives," he said.

Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad, had seen a particular increase in people escaping fierce conflict among militants from the area's Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurdish communities.

On the other hand, security operations in parts of Baghdad, such as the southern district of Dora, had seen people moving back to homes they had abandoned, Nowruz said. The southern oil city of Basra had also seen people returning, he added.


markfromireland

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Turkmen Front Party Headquarters in Kirkuk Attacked

A man injured in the attack on the Turkmen Front Party Office in Kirkuk gestures for helpThe Turkmen Front Party Headquarters in Kirkuk was the target for a bombing attack today. One woman was killed by the blast and 10 people, including 4 children were injured. In the photograph to the left one of the wounded is seen gesturing for help. Also in Kirkuk two soldiers were killed and three others wounded in a mortar attack targetting an "Iraqi" army checkpoint. I say "Iraqi" because what the so-called "Iraqi" army units in Kirkuk are in fact is separatist peshmerga fighters loyal to one or other of the two dominant factions in Iraqi Kurdistan. They have a reputation for brutality and there are stong suspicions that they are actively involved in ethnic cleansing - particularly in Kirkuk.

markfromireland

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

It is Not a Miserable Life. It is Worse Then Miserable

I know an ever-dwindling number of doctors and nurses in Iraq. Those who have not been murdered or become "collateral damage" are fleeing in terror for their lives. In the last 8 months alone five people whom I knew. Three of them nurses two of them doctors have been killed in Iraq. In each of those murders those murdered were targetted because they were medical personnel. For three of those murders there I have reason to believe that they were murdered by Interior Ministry "special forces." Back on July 10th Erdla posted this:

A waning professional class

A concurrent shortage of doctors and nurses has also been reported in Basra. According to Abdullah, there are no reliable statistics on how many doctors, dentists, pharmacists and nurses have left the area, but unofficial data suggests that at least 200 health professionals have left since January. Health ministry statistics also suggest that an average of 30 doctors and nurses per month have left Iraq over the past year after being targeted by criminal gangs.

The emergency unit in the Teaching Hospital was closed for five months after a number of doctors were killed by unidentified attackers while working there. Now many doctors and nurses refuse to go to work, fearing for their lives. "I have a family to look after," said one paediatrician from the Teaching Hospital, speaking anonymously. "Even though it's my responsibility to look after my patients, I can't risk turning my sons into orphans - their father, also a doctor, was killed while doing his duty at the hospital."

Nurses earning the equivalent of between US $150 and $200 per month say these salaries do not justify the tremendous risks they take. "We've asked the central government to review their salaries," said Abdullah. "If salaries aren't increased, we're going to lose the nurses.

On June 11th I posted this:

"The third child Ibtisam Mahmoud is aged 9. She was injured by the bomb targeting a police patrol in the Al-Sadriya market. Her condition isn't known but isn't thought to be very serious. She's being carried away from the hospital by her brother*. Ibtisam was not treated at the hospital. She was turned away. The hospital was too full to take any more patients so her brother had to carry her through a neighbourhood that's now regularly bombed, on foot, in scorching heat, to see if he can find a hospital that will treat her.

In the comments to that posting Maryam who recently did a guest posting here made the following comments:

"To come back to the point our Irish host who is a friend to Iraqis all of us despite the categories westerners want to put us into is making. Wounded people being turned away from hospitals is very common now. I work in an emergency department and we have no space. There are no beds in the wards. They are all taken with badly wounded people. We cannot get plasma. We cannot get drugs. We cannot even get normal saline. We have to wash surgical gloves that are meant to be thrown away after one use. The list is endless. I go home now and I am to exhausted and numb to do anything but sit and stare.

Just get the filthy murdering American PIGS out and we can start to cope until then they stop everything that would be good for MY PEOPLE from happening. We are Iraqis first. IRAQIS. Take your murdering PIG soldiers and your murdering exiles and GO!

and

You AMERICANS opened our borders to these fanatic criminals you AMERICANS are perfectly happy to let them murder our children when you are not murdering them yourselfs. Then you point and say "oh look the dirty Arabs we CIVILISED AMERICAN PIGS must stop the arabs from killing one another" IT IS YOU AND YOUR TRAITORS DOING THE KILLING OF OUR CHILDREN!!! TAKE YOUR CHALABIS AND YOUR ALLAWIS AND YOUR BARZANIS GO HOME TO AMERICA AND LET THEM HELP YOU SODOMISE YOUR OWN DISGUSTING COUNTRY!!!!

I am sorry Mark my friend for this language but they need to learn and I speak only whatevery Iraqi knows. They even HIDE behind our children they lure them with sweets and toys hoping to use them as shields.

PIGS PERVERTED THIEVING MURDERING AMERICAN PIGS.

GO!

On June 13th I posted a photo showing the conditions under which people like Maryam have to work. Today the doctors in Yarmouk hospital have gone on indefinite strike. They regularly get beaten up in the A&E department by interior ministry commandos. That's the interior ministry that's riddled with death squads. That's the interior ministry whose "special forces" report directly to the US embassy official James Steele and American "counter-insurgency" specialist Steven Casteel. That's the interior ministry special forces who get paid directly from American funds. Does this sound familiar?

"People are not just killed by death squads in El Salvador - they are decapitated and then their heads are placed on pikes and used to dot the landscape. Men are not just disemboweled by the Salvadoran Treasury Police; their severed genitalia are stuffed into their mouths. Salvadoran women are not just raped by the National Guard; their wombs are cut from their bodies and used to cover their faces. It is not enough to kill children; they are dragged over barbed wire until the flesh falls from their bones, while parents are forced to watch." [ same location as immediately preceding link. - mfi]

Take a look at the photographs below and the supplied AP captions. The middle one is a death notice for a doctor who worked in Yarmouk hospital. No I'm not going to translate it for you. I'm too busy trying not to puke. And the tears of rage in my eyes are making it too difficult to focus:

Empty ward Yarmouk hospital Doctor's strikeAn employee of a Hospital walks across an empty ward, following an indefinite strike called by Iraqi doctors of Yarmouk hospital, in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday Sept.26, 2006. Doctors of Yarmouk hospital went on an indefinite strike, after Iraqi police commandos beat up one of the doctors, because they were taking time to treat one of their bleeding colleague, later that colleague was treated and saved. Doctors said that the strike will continue till Iraqi ministry of Defense take action against Iraqi police commandos, according to police at the hospital. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Death notice yarmouk hospitalA death notice about a doctor, who was killed recently by unidentified gunmen, is seen written on a black banner, at the Yarmouk hospital, in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday Sept.26, 2006. Doctors of Yarmouk hospital went on an indefinite strike, after Iraqi police commandos beat up one of the doctors, because they were taking time to treat one of their bleeding colleague, later that colleague was treated and saved. Doctors said that the strike will continue till Iraqi ministry of Defense take action against Iraqi police commandos, according to police at the hospital. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Doctors in Yarmouk hospital are on strike demanding protection from death squadsDoctors of Yarmouk hospital look on from their residential building, after an indefinite strike called them, in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday Sept.26, 2006. Doctors of Yarmouk hospital went on an indefinite strike, after Iraqi police commandos beat up one of the doctors, because they were taking time to treat one of their bleeding colleague, later that colleague was treated and saved. Doctors said that the strike will continue till Iraqi ministry of Defense take action against Iraqi police commandos, according to police at the hospital. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

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Now read on. I've posted below in full an article written by an Iraqi doctor. It's description of what Iraqi doctors' lives have become under the American funded and led efforts to rip Iraq into pieces. He's pulled his punches, I know from what I personally have seen and from what my friends in Iraq have told me that he's pulled his punches quite considerably. You should note that despite the fact that he's pulled his punches that he dare not give his name.

This is just one aspect of the blood-soaked miserable hell. That America has created in Iraq.

"It is Not a Miserable Life. It is Worse Then Miserable" - A Doctor's Day in Baghdad

By Dr. ANON

Baghdad.

I have a big family. My eldest two are already dentists and both abroad. I have one daughter just married one month ago. so I am not yet a grandpa. Although I have perfect job satisfaction, Full Professor, with MRCP, FRCP and a couple more degrees from London and France, things are so unhappy here in Baghdad, there is no quality of life at all. There are no services: we are loaded with garbage, as it is not collected more than once every so many weeks, the garbage collectors are also afraid of being killed. We have almost no electricity, no fuel, bad water supply, and what's more you could get killed whether you are Shiite or Sunnite, if you fall in the wrong hands. I nearly got killed on several occasions, I cannot count the sheep sacrified for my safety till now.

As for our colleagues, nearly none is with me from our medical class, all have left the country, the last one two months ago, to Oman. The only one left with me is XXXXX, he is a physician in the department of Medicine

It is not a miserable life. If there is a grade more than miserable, then it will be ours!

We work no more than three days a week in the university, medical city, the one which was elegant and beautiful is now surrounded by garbage and barbwires and concrete blocks from all directions. We don't spend more than three hours maximum at work, so that totals to nine hours a week. This is the maximum that anyone is working. In the afternoons most of my colleagues say that they have completely stopped going to their private clinics, for fear of death or abduction. I do no more than one and a half hours in the afternoon, I have to feed my big family. I come back rushing to my house after that, we lock our doors and do not leave at all.

What about shopping? What shopping? You must be joking! It is called Marathon Buying, for I try to spend no more than ten minutes getting all the needed vegetables, fruits and food items--this is on my way back from university, ie three times a week. I also spend another ten minutes in the afternoon on my way back from clinic buying gas (benzine, car fuel) for my home electric generator. It is all black market reaching four to five times the official price. If I need to get it legally, I have to spend overnight in line in front of the gas station, people bring their blankets, water, food, and sleep in the street in front of the gas stations. Of course sometimes I speak nicely to the guard of the gas station, presenting my ID and my buisness card and ask them if I could fill my car off-line. Sometimes they kick me out, othertimes I would get lucky and the guard has some rheumatic complaints, back pain or knees pains and bingo! I can fill my car off-line, with a promise to bring him medicines. Of course without any physical exam or investigations, if I was too lucky, and the stars where on my side that day, then I may even be allowed to get an extra 20 litres of gas for my generator.

A month ago, there were militia men with their guns, storming the dormitories of resident doctors in the medical city. They were particularly looking for doctors from Mosul or Anbar. There was a big fuss, and target doctors went into hidings, none was caught. Next day, two of them -- rheumatology post-graduates under my supervision -- asked me to give them leave to go to their hometowns and not be back except for their exams, and that even their training and teaching be taken there. I agreed, because they were leaving anyway. They would have been killed if they were caught, not because they have done any crime, but just because they are Sunni from Mosul and Anbar.

I believe that many doctors from southern parts of Iraq, who were Shiites, also left the dormitory on that day, because they feared that they are not safe anymore, and that next time it will be their turn, when maybe Sunni militia gunmen will come. So everyone left. Actually in that week I had prepared a lecture for post-grad doctors in the medical city. No one appeared, as all resident doctors had left. Of course many have come back again, but are terrified. Yet life has to go on.

The same applies for other hospitals, services are almost non-existant now. I was in Yarmouk hospital two days ago. The resident doctor whom I was visiting was living in a place in the hospital with broken, dusty furniture, wood and metal scattered all over, doors and windows broken. It looked like an animal barn. I was requesting a death certificate for a colleague. I went with him to the morgue where he kept the death registry. Outside the morgue there were the bodies of two young men, both shot in the head, laid on stretchers in the open air. The hospital was barricaded behind huge cement walls-- the hospital itself had been targeted several times by car bombs. A few months ago, doctors in this hospital declared a one day strike because they were being regularly beaten and wounded by officers of the National Guard. The hospitals are frequently raided by militia men who pull the wounded out of their hospital beds and drag them to where they will be executed.

Attendance of patients to hospitals has dropped tremendously. We used to see an avrerage of 100 one hundred patients in our consultation clinic at Rheumatology every single day prior to 2003. We don't see more than twenty these days. Don't ask me where did the patients disappear to? Many are scared to leave their homes and go to the hospitals. The hospital used to provide medicines for the chronically ill, for diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. We used to have a monthly blood check followed by a month supply of DMRDs. These supplies are now so infrequent, blood checking is not done. Because services are so irregular, most patients got fed up and decided it is no more worth it to attend hospitals. Even simple NSAIDs most of the times are not available to patients coming for acute complaints. Many who used to come from towns and cities away from Baghdad, for better treatment in the capital city, now think it is too risky and dangerous to travel to Baghdad for follow ups. Instead, patients stop their therapy altogether, or depend on local facilities and whatever simple resources they get where they are, regardless of whether it is efficient or not. The financial situation of most families in Baghdad has gone so much down, that many find it is a luxury to treat chronic illnesses. The priority is for food, fuel and staying alive.

This is a small summary of what and how we are living.

Source


What of Maryam? Well I got one piece of good news today. My friend Maryam phoned me. She got another death threat the day before yesterday. A very detailed and specific death threat. It detailed every movement she'd made over the last few days, it detailed every one of the many different routes she took from her home to the hospital where she worked. It gave similar details for her widowed mother and for her children. It was so specific and so detailed that she knew it was time. She and what remains of her family didn't bother to pack. They piled into their cars and drove hell for leather through the night. Through al-Anbar on what is the now the most dangerous highway in the world. They were shot at three times during that trip.

At least they made it. At least she's alive.

markfromireland

Monday, September 25, 2006

Guest Posting by Declan: "What I Did At The Weekend"

Introduction: I've known Declan ('Deco') for a long time. He was the best sergeant I ever had. He fell in love first with Lebanon, and then with a Lebanese girl, they got married and as he says himself the rest is "history." It's entirely typical of Deco that when everybody was fleeing the brutal Israeli/American assault upon Lebanon that he was making his way there, determined to rescue as many civilians as he could. His emails describing what he saw and heard and smelt awoke painful and bitter memories for all of us. His description of the wreckage he encountered, of digging his wife's family from the ruins of their home and of his nephew's and niece's death were harrowing. I've known for some weeks now that he and his wife have decided to return to Lebanon permanently and that he would be resigning from the team here at "Guides" as he wants to devote all his time to winding up his affairs in Ireland and moving to his "new" home. He's told me what he plans on doing. I've every confidence that he'll be very successful.

As with all the guest postings I haven't edited anything. I've marked up the XHTML, in this case to very precise instructions from Declan, and prepared the graphics - in this case to extremely precise instructions from Declan. The words are all Declan's own. He's a shrewd observer with a wealth of contacts. I take what he says very seriously.

There will be no further postings today.

markfromireland


Foreword

As long-time readers here know I fell in love with a Lebanese girl, we got married, had kids, the rest as they say "is history." I've been in Lebanon since the war I got here during the war. This posting is long and it contains strong language, it also contains a lot of graphics so it might load slowly. If you don't like what you read that's just too bloody bad.

What I Did At The Weekend

Last Friday I was asked by my in-laws if I'd like to take part in a family outing. The outing was to hear Nasrallah's speech at the Hizb's victory rally in Beirut. Of course I said "yes." That speech is going to make history. It's not often that Juan Cole has the full text of the speech as translated by BBC Monitoring up on his site. I'd print it off and keep it if I were you.someone like me, I was only a sergeant, gets to see a big history changing event. Wild horses wouldn't have kept me away.

There's a lot of crap being floated in the American media right now. Trying to re-write history. Trying to make American readers, and more importantly, American TV viewers believe that the Hizb lost. They didn't. The losers were the Israelis and their American backers. Professionals in the IDF know it know it . They ain't pleased about it and I don't think they'll let the politicians pin the blame on them. But that's not what this posting is about. This posting deals with what I saw and heard last Friday and what I think it means for the county and people I've come to love just as much as I love Ireland. The country that's going to be my permanent home in a few months time.

First off the rally was huge. I've seen all sorts of estimates of the size of the crowd. Take a loot at the photo to the right. Over view of people arriving for the rallyThat place is 37 acres. My hunch is that the estimates in the order of 800,000 are close to the mark.

People came from all over Lebanon. People came from outside of Lebanon. I spoke to several people who came from Dubai just to be there. I spoke to a Christian family who came from Paris. I spoke to two brothers who came from London. I've no idea how many people came back from Syria where they'd been forced to flee as refugees by the savage Israeli bombing campaign. I stopped counting after a while. But mostly the crowd came from Lebanon. They weren't all Shia either and they weren't all Hizb. There were Berri supporters (no surpise.) There were a lot of Sunnis and a hell of a lot of Christians. I spoke to people who were die-hard supporters of Awn's there was a large group of Franjieh supporters close to where I was sitting.

Maybe that doesn't sound important to you if you don't know Lebanon. Believe me it's important. Lebanon always regroups and re-forms from the bottom up. The composition of the crowd is a sign of a massive shift in Lebanese politics and society. It was happening anyway American and Israeli brutality have made sure that this shift is more profound, longer lasting, and more complete than the previous ones.

Two child murdering piano players
Two of a kind: Condi and Ehud both play the piano to drown out the screams of dieing children. My niece was 6 and dreamt of being a teacher. My nephew was 5 he wanted to be a soccer player. Mark prepared the graphic at my request. The sentiment is all mine and my family's.
- Deco
What I mean by that is that it's going to be a cold day in hell before the Lebanese forgive or forget what was done to their children by Israeli troops and Israeli aviators. They're not going to forgive or forget that the weapons used to slaughter their children and destroy their livelihoods were made in America, paid for by America, and calculatingly used against their children in a war planned for years by Israel, and launched with America's blessing.

They're not going to forgive or forget that America blocked all attempts to stop their children being massacred by Israeli troops and Israeli aviators. They're never ever ever going to forgive or forget what that bloodsoaked slut Condoleeza Rice said about how the agonised deaths of their children were the "birth pangs of the new middle east." They're not going to forgive or forget that neither the "light unto the nations" nor the "shining city on the hill" gave a flying fuck about their children. It didn't matter that a lot of the dead children were Christians all that mattered was that they were Lebanese, that they were Arabs, untermenschen and that it was worth killing them because the political calculation in America and Israel was that killing them would cause their parents to blame and hate their fellow Lebanese.

That was a big, stupid, and above all evil mistake. Between them Ehud and Condi finally conclusively ripped off the mask and exposed the cynical and vicious racism beneath. And speaking as someone with all the normal feelings about kids I hope that they and the people who voted for them get to suffer the consequences of their actions. I don't believe in revenge, harsh retribution dished out to child murderers in a court of law is an idea that I can get right behind 'though. I love the idea of every IDF soldier and every IAF aviator never being able to leave Israel even for a short break in case they get picked up on war-crimes charges. And don't even think of giving me that shit about how the noble Israeli aviators deliberately missed targets. All the dead kids I saw didn't get killed by accident. Not in those numbers.

Kids at the rally. There was face painting for the kids.
"Hezbollah" - Deco

We got there a few hours early and after a good long while walking round and talking to people. I went back to my chair. The rally was organised down a tee. I'd hate to have been the guy in charge of the logistics, I will say that he and his team did a brilliant job, they rented what must have been every chair in Lebanon, and everybody got their free hizb baseball cap. The atmosphere was electric and very much a family affair. In a way I was reminded of a carnival or other celebration. They were there to show their support and their gratitude and they were going to enjoy doing it. Entire families turned up, three, and sometimes four, generations. There was face painting for the kids. Some like the kids in the photo to the left turned up ready-painted.

As I say very much a family affair, very much people who wanted to show their gratitude, their loyalty, their patriotism and yes their anger too. I sent Mark three photos and asked him to prepare a composite graphic that shows some of the cold burning rage that the people of Lebanon feel towards their American and Israeli tormenters:

Composite graphic see list below

  • Panel 1: Giant poster showing Israeli soldiers mourning at the funeral of an IDF soldier killed in Lebanon. The Arabic text on the photo reads:

    "The nation has triumphed and the enemies were defeated."

  • Panel 2: Photograph of Condoleeza Rice and text the text reads:

    "Don't play with fire the Shia would burn you"

  • Panel 3: Giant poster showing Hizb fighter the Arabic text on his bandana reads:

    "God is Great"

From a professional point of view I'll also say that the security was excellent. The Hizb are good at logistics and security and it showed. Very tight security - which I'm not going to talk about. Let's just say that after looking around I felt very safe.

The speech itself was very well thought out. Go read the BBC translation on Juan Cole's site. My spoken Arabic is good - it should be after being married to an Arab all this time, my written Arabic isn't all that hot, but I know a good translation when I see it, and that's a good translation - a hell of a lot better than any translation I could do. The crowd interrupted with applause repeatedly. There was a lot in that speech. Most of it was directed to Lebanese concerns. The crowd lapped it up:

"Brothers and sisters, we should today stress that this war was an American war in terms of decision, weapons, planning, and desire, and by giving several deadlines for the Zionists; one, two, three, and four weeks. What stopped the war is the failure of the Zionists. If you recall the last days, the largest number of tanks was destroyed on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; the largest number of the occupation soldiers was killed on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; the helicopters crashed on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Therefore, the Zionists realized that if they had continued [the war], it would have been a disaster. The Americans intervened and even accepted the drafts [of resolutions] for the war to stop. They stopped the war not for the sake of Lebanon, not for the sake of the children of Lebanon, not for the sake of the blood of women in Lebanon, and not for the sake of beautiful Lebanon. They stopped the war only for the sake of Israel. They came to peddle it to us in Lebanon; namely, that our American friends stopped the war.

Every time he mentioned America or Condoleeza Rice there were boos. Heartfelt boos, enraged boos, there was a large bloc of Christians just behind us. They booed the loudest and there weren't any cheerleaders around that I could see - they weren't needed. One point that needs to be made is that the Hizb have been working round the clock on reconstruction. They're way ahead of the government and they're being straight up and honest about the reconstruction. They've even discriminated positively in favour of Sunnis and Christians when they were doling out grants-in-aid cash. That's going to reap them big rewards in the future. Contrast that with the government insisting that all aid go through the (notoriously corrupt and used as a source of political patronage) Higher Relief Council (HRC) and you can see why a lot of donors are going the direct route. When you read his speech you'll see time and time again his insistence on "no sectarianism" (the crowd loved it every time he did that you could see and hear the approval) and contrast it with how Hariri junior scooted out of Lebanon as fast as his fat little legs could carry him - but not before leaving instructions that refugees weren't to be allowed on any of his property and you can see the hollowness of the "Cedar revolution." He repeatedly criticised Siniora's government calling it weak and ineffective and calling for a national unity government. I have a feeling he might get it. "Premier boo hoo" as he's called in Lebanon - even by his supporters, hasn't impressed anyone lately.

What I saw and heard on Friday was one of the Lebanon's famous "bottom up" earthquakes. The Hizb rally and Nasrallah's speech was the clearest sign yet that the Shia are going to to assert themselves more strongly in Lebanese politics. All the obfuscation in the world and all the hysterical press coverage in America can't conceal that the Lebanese government as gor noted here have repeatedly referred to the Hizb as a resistance not a militia, a resistance, not a "terrorist" group. There isn't a hope in hell of them being able to backtrack on that now. And there isn't a hope in hell of either the UN forces or the Lebanese army especially not the Lebanese army being able to disarm the Hizb either. The Lebanese army doesn't want to disarm them. For the record most of the Lebanese army privates and sergeants are Southern Lebanese Shia. Ohlmert and Rice can squeal all they like about this - it's a measure of how thoroughly they've been defeated that they went to the UN in the first place. It's not going to happen. There might be some face-saving "seizures" of clapped-out equipment that the Hizb don't want anymore but that'll be it. To my mind this was the most telling part of his speech:

"But, what is happening now? Instead of the Israeli leaving Shab'a Farms, he is extending the strip northward. Instead of the Israeli resolving the problem of the border points, he moves forward to Al-Khiyam and Marwahin. Instead of our benefiting from our legal right to the Al-Wazzani River, the Israeli builds pipes to steal the water. Is this how to protect the country and its resources?

Therefore, any talk about disarming the Resistance - to some people the word "disarming" is a bit heavy; fine, how about surrendering the resistance weapons? Any talk about surrendering the resistance weapons under this state, this authority, this regime, and the existing situation means keeping Lebanon exposed to Israel so it can kill as it wants, arrest as it wants, bomb as it wants, and plunder our land and waters. We certainly cannot accept that."

What he was saying here and in the next few paragraphs is that even under the ceasefire the Israelis are acting with aggressive bad faith. That the solution is a national unity government with a strong Hizb component. I've a strong hunch the most Lebanese agree with him.

Here's my take: The Hizb won you lost. You deserved to. Get used to it. Every time you've tried to impose your will by violence you've lost. You deserved to. Get used to it. Start dealing in good faith with your Palestinian population and with your neighbours. Yes they're your enemies. Enemies are who you negotiate with. Get used to it.

Declan

Sunday, September 24, 2006

British Troops Suspected Of 'Guns For Cocaine' Trade

I'd love to be able to say that I'm suprised by this story but I'm not. Not even slightly. When you talk to Continental police one of the things they all mention is that guns are now very easy to get. The same is true of British police. A lot of these guns come from Eastern Europe - the former Soviet bloc countries. But another source of supply is corrupt soldiers. This story from the London Times isn't going to be the last one you read on this topic. When I was researching this I discovered that a U.K. private soldier's basic pay is £13,866 compare that with £19,918 for a trainee fireman (who also gets overtime.)

Soldiers in 'guns for coke' scandal
David Leppard

BRITISH soldiers have been caught smuggling stolen guns out of Iraq and allegedly exchanging them for cocaine and cash on the black market.

Security officials confirmed this weekend that soldiers from the 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment are at the centre of a criminal inquiry by the Royal Military Police (RMP) into a "guns for cocaine" network.

[snip]

Although drug use is increasing in the armed forces, this is the first time military police have evidence that stolen weapons are being sold to pay for them.

One of the first soldiers from the Yorkshire Regiment to have been arrested is alleged to have bought drugs by trading handguns, including Glock pistols, smuggled from Iraq to Germany on at least six occasions.

A security source said some of the weapons had been exchanged for about 50 grams of cocaine with a street value of £2,500. The drugs were sold to other British soldiers serving in Iraq.

The source said it was unclear whether the weapons were army issue or seized from Iraqi insurgent groups.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) fears the soldiers may have been doing business with members of organised crime syndicates in Germany. The battalion has a base near Fallingbostel, north of Hanover.

[snip]

As Iraq slides further into chaos, the country has become awash with illicit weapons, many provided to the Iraqi police by America and Britain.

The army is suffering an epidemic of drug abuse. Earlier this year The Sunday Times revealed how the army regiment involved in the first Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal was awash with drugs as the soldiers went to war.

One former fusilier claimed that 75 men from his company, some 60% of its strength, regularly took cocaine, ecstasy or marijuana. "There's guys who have to have two or three lines of coke before they can operate," he said.

According to a parliamentary answer, 1,020 army personnel tested positive for drugs last year, including 520 cases using class A drugs - a 50% rise in the past five years.

The MoD confirmed the RMP inquiry but declined to comment further.


The full text of the article can be found on the Sunday Times website.

Declan

Greetings From The Gorilla's Guides Team

Ramadan Mubarak!
Happy Ramadan to our Muslim brothers and sisters.

L'Shanah Tovah Tikatevu
Happy Rosh HaShana to our Jewish brothers and sisters.

You are our brothers and sisters either in religion or in Humanity.

The Gorilla's Guides team:

Abbas, Ahmad, Ali, Ali (al-Basrawi), Anthony, Declan, Dubhaltach, Erdla, Fatima, Gerard, Hassan, Hussayn, Laith, Mark, Omar, Tony, Padhraic, Sagib, Thalit, Yassir, Zeynab.