Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Latifiya

Thanks to Norman Geras for drawing attention to this report, although I would put the emphasis slightly differently.
"Is the resistance good or bad?" is Question Number One in Iraq. Of course the answer depends if you are Shiite, Sunni or Kurdish, and if you were a former military officer or a political prisoner.

A few weeks ago the Iraqi government, with the help of the Americans, decided to conduct a big sweep looking for weapons, insurgents and hostages in the town of Latifiya, 30kms south of Baghdad. The town is a hotbed of Sunni insurgents
...
Eight police officers were cramped in the car under the command of a young twentysomething lieutenant, a recent graduate from a US-sponsored training course in Amman. He is one of the new recruits on whom the government and the Americans are building their hopes to rebuild the country. His number two was a Shiite police officer in his 50s who first joined the force under Saddam.

The lieutenant turned out to be a Sunni, originally from the area in which the raid was taking place.
...
He tuned to his aide and said, as he started to unbutton his shirt:

"If the mujahideen open fire at you, be sure not to fire back."

"What do you mean sir?"

"I mean, make sure not to fire back because those are mujahideens, holy warriors."
...
"And what about all the people who get killed in the car bombs? Are they occupiers too?" By now the aide was shaking with anger.
...
"See, the resistance detain people and investigate them. If they are OK they will be released...."

Everyone in the car fell silent, and by now we were on the outskirts of Latifiya and we could hear the explosions. The lieutenant, now wearing a coloured T-shirt, tucked his gun in his trousers and jumped out of the car and mixed with crowds. Later, four policemen were killed in the raid when insurgents attacked them.

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