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Firas Al-Atraqchi: Send the Americans Home

Send the Americans Home


By Firas Al-Atraqchi

Today is a sad day in Iraq as dozens of Iraqi families mourn the dead who were caught in blasts against police stations in Ramadi and Ba’qubah over the weekend. More families mourn the Iraqis detained by US forces. Or the Iraqis who were shot in killed in raids. Or the Iraqis who were caught in the crossfire.

But there have been many sad days in Iraq and unfortunately, there will be many more.

However, this article is not about Iraqis. It is about the US soldiers in Iraq who are getting caught up in a war most of them did not want and most of them did not understand.

This article was prompted by the news of two US servicemen who were killed earlier today in Mosul. Their story unfolded as follows, according to newswire reports and eyewitness accounts emerging from Iraq:

A truck/Humvee carrying two US soldiers is fired upon. It crashes into a wall. About a dozen Iraqi children and teenagers swoop down on the two soldiers and pummel them with rocks and boulders. The American soldiers are found more than an hour later (that they were abandoned by their own forces for an hour is itself an incredible failure of security and communications) with their throats slit. Initial news reports indicated that the foot of one of the soldiers may have been severed.

Is this a scene reminiscent of Somalia? Not shot, not RPGed but pummeled by stones and then killed with knives or swords. What does this indicate? A deep resentment, an incredible hatred for US soldiers.

And yet we hear reports that most Iraqis want the Americans there, that most Iraqis are working with the Americans but are stifled by remnants of the former regime. It is in the Sunni Triangle, they tell us. The 19 Italians who were blown to bits were in Nasiriyah, a predominantly Shiite city. No Sunnis here, and definitely not part of the triangle.

Today, I grimaced when I heard the above report. I thought of the mothers of those soldiers, more than 5,000 miles away, not knowing where their sons are or what they face.

True, I grieve for the Iraqis that are killed because of an imprecise US occupation. But it is becoming painfully obvious that these young US soldiers had no idea what they were in for. They aren’t suited for policing or for acting as an occupying army. This isn’t World War II. Some of the soldiers thought they were going to find the weapons that allowed the 9-11 tragedies to unfold. They found out they were lied to. Increasing evidence continues to surface that Saddam and Al-Qaeda had no links that one could write home about.

Some US soldiers thought they were going to be greeted as great liberators (like the US army in Paris circa 1944) with rice and flowers. Instead, they were greeted with glares and vindictive stares, bullets and RPGs. They were lied to by the Iraqi National Congress, the leader of which sits today in the Iraq Governing Council. Is a pattern beginning to emerge here?

At press time 436 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq. A disconcerting majority of them have been in their early twenties. They all had mothers, daughters, and wives back home; their lives have been shattered.

What is the US strategy in Iraq? Can anyone really answer? Countless Americans and Iraqis are dying everyday because of what is being increasingly seen as a muck-up of foreign policy. One the one hand, the persistent attacks forced the White House to say it was relinquishing control of Iraq to some Iraqi body by July 2004. On the other hand, The New York Times recently sited a report calling for 100,000 US troops to stay in Iraq until 2006.

The so-called war on terrorism, as Bush has called it, making constant justification for his invasion of Iraq, has been lost. Turkey, a powerful US and NATO ally, was hit twice in the same week – British interests were targeted as were, Jewish synagogues.

Is this the safer world Bush envisioned?

I constantly quote Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa who said an invasion of Iraq would open the gates of hell. I also quote Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who said instead of one Bin Laden there will be a thousand if Iraq is invaded.

Iraq has been invaded. The world faces more turmoil.

And US soldiers are getting killed every day.

It is up to the American voters in the most democratic, most powerful country in the world to reverse the course before them.

Vote Bush out of office, bring the soldiers home.

ENDS

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