June 20, 2006

Outside the Green Zone...

An absolute must-read from US Embassy-Baghdad. The situation outside the Green Zone is very, very dire. We knew this, of course, but the details here ring so very true in their vivid detail, and so force us to grapple with the reality of Baghdad's anguish anew. I'm particularly concerned about reports of woman being forced to dress in full abayas, and with their heads covered, or men not being able to wear jeans or shorts (this last particularly unfortunate in 115 degree weather, with the power working intermittently, isn't it?). I'm very concerned to hear about ethnic discord rising even within so-called mixed families (always painful to witness, as I did not infrequently during my time in the Balkans in the mid-90s). The sense that people traveling between neighborhoods are attempting to adopt the 'local' mores of the specific neighborhoods they are passing through, so as to survive, is quite sinister--as is the reality that security depends now on "neighborhood" governments, rather than the central government, which is commonly viewed as mostly irrelevant. There is also the passing reference that some Iraqis, many of them conspiratorially minded to begin with, believe the US is purposefully keeping Iraq in this chaos (how could the world's sole superpower not do better, they must wonder?!?)--the better to oppress Sunnis and poor Shia. Outrageous, of course, until you think about the gross insouciance of some of our policymakers, the denialists in the commentariat, the cheap din occasioned by those more interested in keeping score than grappling with the immense imbroglio we find ourselves in in Iraq. To have a prayer of prevailing we must understand the forces we've unleashed, how powerful these historical currents are, what a mammoth task awaits us. Save Zalmay Khalilzad and a handful of others currently serving in the government, I sincerely wonder how many people get it. Needless to say too, to take one random example, if it requires US Embassy local employees to clue us in to the fact that Mansur, say (the equivalent of Baghdad's Upper East Side, and a former bastion of Sunni privilege), has become something of a "ghost town" one can't help wondering, who in our government really understands the current state of play, really, in cities like Kirkuk, Basra, Mosul, Ramadi and Baghdad?

Posted by Gregory at June 20, 2006 03:29 AM | TrackBack (0)

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Gregory Djerejian comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.

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