An eyewitness account from Iraq

5 Mile Market in Basra

IPT Update: Dark Days (March 25, 2003)

Dear Friends,

I doubt many people in Iraq heard the ominous comic book assertion this morning from U.S. Central Command that there were "Dark days ahead for the dark side" in Iraq. A quick glance at the news this evening suggests that the "dark days" are here...for all sides.

In the Summer of 2000, members of Voices in the Wilderness lived for two months with poor families in the Jumhuriyah neighborhood of Basra.

Reflecting on her first night in Basra, Lauren Cannon wrote:"Summer in Basra - nightmare fears leaping into the everyday lives of innocents who've already endured close to two decades of military and economic warfare. Summer in Basra - a world of imprisoned beauty where we feel no threat. Who does Iraq threaten? Lets be honest. Iraq threatens the US ability to control Iraq's precious and irreplaceable resources."

Kathy Kelly added:

"As thousands of children are sacrificed because of this perceived threat to US security, the US earns a fearsome reputation as the rogue superpower. We feel sure that families here in Jumhuriyah will teach us a new kind of security based on sharing, simplicity and care for others' needs."

Tonight the good people of Basra are without electricity and many are without water as tank barrels stare in at them from the outside edges of the city. There are reports of "incidents" inside the city that some are saying is an uprising. Who knows what the future holds.

Meanwhile CNN is saying there will be some 1,400 air missions over Iraq in the next 24 hours. Little gets in the way of "Shock & Awe." Bettejo Passalaqua wrote from Baghdad this morning:

"Today there is a tremendous sandstorm. I would have thought that this would have stopped the bombing, as it seems it would be difficult to guide the missiles and planes with any precision, but apparently it is not a problem for guidance, or the military just isn't too concerned if mistakes are made."

Also out of Baghdad this morning, we have a brief reflection from Shane Claiborne called "Dark days and Shiny Shoes":

"I have grown especially close to one of the 'shoeshine boys', a homeless boy (about 10 years old), named Mussef. The first day I met him, he was begging me for money to eat. When I stubbornly said 'no' to his relentless attempts on my wallet, he turned away and muttered,

'Son-of-b****-mother-******.' I whipped my head around in shock, as he took off running. Not the best first impression. Day after day, we have grown on each other. We go for walks, turn somersaults, and yell at the airplanes 'SALAAM!' (PEACE!!!). Now everyday when I walk outside he runs at full speed, jumps into my arms, and kisses me on the cheek. And I have the shiniest shoes in Baghdad.

"One day Mussef joined our group on a walk into the center of town, carrying pictures of Iraqi children and families suffering from the war and sanctions.

Press and journalists took pictures and talked to us as we stood in one of Baghdad's busiest intersections, and Mussef begin to internalize what was happening. His shining face became bleak. Nothing I could do made him smile. As the group went home, and the cameras left, we continued to sit. He motioned with his hand the falling of bombs, and made the sound explosions, as tears welled up in his eyes.

"Suddenly, he turned, and latched onto my neck. He began to weep; his body shook as he gasped for each breath of air. I began to cry. Somehow I was glad all the cameras were gone. We wept as friends, as brothers, not as a peacemaker and victim. Afterwards I took him to eat, banquet style (tipping everyone extravagantly so my guest would be welcome). Every five minutes he would ask me, 'Are you okay?' I would nod, and ask, 'Are you okay?' And he would nod. To be honest I think we were both scared out of our minds but we each wanted to assure that the other did not start weeping again."

In these dark days, we are anxious for a new beginning in Iraq. It was new beginnings that Andrew Mandell - who traveled to Iraq with VitW two years ago - had in mind recently when he penned an open letter to a friend in Baghdad. "It is time for a modest sunrise" for the people of Iraq. That sunrise, he writes, "will slip around to my children's dawn as well. There is no seam to divide the dawns of this confused species. The only way to promise my daughter a morning will be to promise yours one as well."

Until tomorrow,

Jeff Guntzel, for Voices in the Wilderness and Iraq Peace Team

 

"5 mile-market" by Alialohily - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:5mile-market.jpg#mediaviewer/File:5mile-market.jpg

 

Comments

Many times when I read an article or any article on muslims or islam expecially like this one, I always have this conflicting feelings inside me.one is : feeling very sad about the injustice that is done to the muslim world .Two: and doing nothing about it.Like what has been said ealier, it is even more sadden when we know that our so called muslims leaders are nothing more than puppets in the hands of the americans.My prayer is that May Allah continue to shower His infinite mercies on us and grant us victory over the disbelieving folks.

Location

nigeria

We as muslims will not be helped by Allah(swt) nor will he (swt) make us victorious over the disbelievers until we ourselves purify our own souls and try our best to practice our deen the way that Allah(swt) asks us to in the Holy Qura'n and following the way of Rasool (saw). Even those amongst us who feel we are trying to do the best we can Islamically, are we really? or we doing the best we can Islamically? and at the same time trying to do our best to fit in so well with the west, but on the otherhand always critisising the west? we need to concentrate so hard on ourselves and getting ourselves purified in order to portray Islam as it should be to the rest of the non-muslim world. How can we change the world for the better(Islamically) if we are finding hard to change ourselves i.e. some of us love the easy life of the west yet we critisize it at every level very sad isnt it when we think about it hard. We have to also ask ourselves why are we being tyranised by these infidels (disbelievers) have we brought it upon ourselves maybe? and it is a test from Allah(swt) our best weapon against the kufaar is our Du'a right now with regards to us here in the west and I suppose for the muslims overseas too but are our Dua's even being answered? and if not why not? sincerely remember Allah(swt) and he will remember you, ask help of Allah(swt) and he will help you (if of course we are sincere and trying to do the best that we can with regards to our deen first and foremost !!). But again are we sincere or is it even a show in front of our other brothers and sisters to look good? let us all look at these questions and there are thousands more !! there is only one way in Islam, Allah(swt) didnt give us a few ways to follow there is only one way let us stop fighting amongst ourselves and whoever doesnt want to take heed to the sincere practise of Allah(swt)'s religion then let us also leave them to Allah's (swt) judgement as we cannot look inside eachothers hearts either to determine which ones of us needs to be abandoned etc we need to choose good practising friends who have emaan and taqwa and that will not be afraid to tell us if we say of do something wrong that we know Allah(swt) will not like, but will tell us and that we also can tell them in turn if they do or say something wrong these are the God fearing and good company to keep, and with making ourselves better and more pure then maybe Allah(swt) will answer our call and help us and then maybe our strongest weapon (Du'a) will work properly and then we can be victorious. The years ahead are probably going to be worse and even more trying, lets make a change in the right way to overcome these dangerous times with emaan and taqwa and to give dawah to the non-muslims like myself once was and to understand the beauty and sincerity of our precious religion and this best gift that Allah(swt) has ready to hand out to us if we only search for it, by doing this we have to purify ourselves and our own communities close to us and then maybe Insha_Allah our message will spread outwards to communities outside and our Dua's will work for us. Assalamu alaykum to all believers

Location

cardiff, wales

yeah ok. saddam and his regime is bad but coalition forces diving in2 iraq isnt gonna solve anything. its a common fact that the U.S want oil- by the year 2020 they will be needing 20 million barrels of oil A DAY. they dont wanna 'liberate' the Iraqis. they dont wanna give em justice. In fact, they wanna wipe out Muslims. they wanna expand their own country. throughout history, its been demonstrated dat the U.S. wanna have power. their next aim is 4 Syria. then Iran, Pakistan, etcu know, it feels so good when sum1 powerful says they wanna help u. the quetion is are the U.S helping the Iraqis? Or hav they gone 2 fight 4 their own needs? After all, did they 'liberate' Afghanistan????? Let's face it- America aint bad, it's the leaders. and us MUslims have a problem of uniting in the Western countries. we urgently need 2 unite. we're just falling in2 their hands. If only we were at the time of the PRophet Muhammad(saw)...... If only....

Location

bradford

it is time the arab leaders stop becoming hypocrytes and drive the entire infidels or kufaars out of the arabian peninsula and heed to the last sermon of the prophet because it is your acklaaq that is more important that will take you to jannah then the material assets of this dunya.Let them no that as muslims brothers and sisters we are one. If one part of your body hurts then the entire body hurts.So if the muslims in iraq are hurt then we should be hurt.Where is the arab leaders sense and sensibility. They can control the world with the greatest resource they have in this dunya that is our religion and the oil wells.Can they not open their eyes. But alas if ALLAH dries those wells up we will be the losers. Lets take heed from past prophets and nations that ALLAH created destroyed and brought another nation into being.The ARAB world has become very arogant and there arrogance will lead them to hell fire if they donot head the call of ALLAH and protect this ummah by driving the infidels out of the suez canal.When NOAH's son did not heed the call ALLAH drowned him with the rest.Yet he was the prodeny of the prophets.So muslims let us heed what ALLAh wants before his hand destroys us all.

Location

west hollywood ca

As much as I respect people like the writer of this article who are ready to endanger their lives to support a just cause ( like the precious Rachel Corrie), I despise the logic of Mr Raid Mohammad who accepts the invasion of his motherland by foreign army to correct the political regime, while we all know it's only for the oil and the contracts to rebuild what that army is demolishing everyday with the oil money not to mention how happy the arms factories are! I'm not from Iraq but I feel the agony of the iraqis who endured many years of war, sanctions and a dictator regime, but when a country is invaded, the people must unite to send the invader back home, and keep on trying to eliminate the tyrant without the help of foreign armies! anyway this war started and we are praying daily for it to end as soon as possible.. we can't see hundreds of muslim civilians killed everyday anymore..

Location

Beirut

I am neither a military planner nor a paid think-tank strategist. I am the father of US-born and US-raised young adults and my deepest wish is for them to live in their country the US, the only country they have known, in peace and in prosperity. I was also born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq, and have a strong desire to protect innocent Iraqis from becoming casualties, and for the infrastructure and the historic character of ancient Iraqi cities to be spared devastation while the objective of ridding Iraq from the brutality of Saddam’s regime is achieved. These two heart-felt desires inspired me to come up with a very reasonable, yet relatively easy-to-implement strategy. The coalition forces should seize bombing urban areas immediately and should concentrate on besieging them. By now or very soon the coalition forces will be in a position to have complete control over the southern part of Iraq where the major oil fields are located. Oil should continue to be pumped from these fields and the resulting revenue should be spent to implement this plan. The armed forces should also very easily be able to occupy the western deserts of Iraq, where research has indicated the possibility of a tremendous amount of oil reserves. These reserves should be immediately explored and utilized. The Kurdish northern and northeastern part of Iraq is already in alliance with the US. Iran borders the eastern part of Iraq sad Iran will never support Saddam and his regime. This means that the coalition forces will be in a position to cut the blood line of the regime and this should help to erode the human infrastructure that is supporting the regime which will result in the demise of Saddam. Food and necessities can continue to be provided to the residents of the besieged areas. Residents of the besieged areas should, however, be encouraged to vacate these areas –a migration which can be very easily accommodated. Most of the residents of Baghdad, Mosul, and of many other of Iraq’s major cities are new migrants to these urban centers, and their resettlement will have to take place to help reduce the over congestion in these cities. Perhaps new urban centers can be development in the liberated areas where resettled Iraqis as well as those Iraqis who escaped the brutality of the regime can settle. Iraqis living inside Iraq can not yet speak their minds. However a simple opinion pull of the four Million Iraqis living outside Iraq will indicate their support of this or similar plan. Although the media is claiming that Iraqis are putting a fierce resistance, the reality is that most of those who are fighting for Saddam, and using innocent Iraqi civilians as a human shield in the process, are not Iraqis. They are mercenaries from two different nations. The first group is the outlawed Iranian communist party, the toodeh, or better known as “mujahdeen khalq”. The other group is mainly formed from refugees that settled Iraq after the 1948 and 1967 wars. These two groups were very effectively used by the regime to carry its torture of the Iraqi population and to maintain the grip on power. They are the same groups that have protected Sadaam for decades and put Iraq in this predicament that we are in today. They should be eliminated along with Sadaam for Iraq to ever prosper again.

Location

Austin, TX

May Allah purify this deen, unite us as an ummah and have mercy on us all. Ameen

Location

Washington, DC

Very touching and sad, La howla wala quwwata illa billah.

Location

London, UK

Nice one...

Location

IL, USA

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