Many of the Arabas praise the hospitality of the Kurds. "The people are very good to us, and we have more freedom here," said Mr. Abdul Rahman, the former intelligence officer. "There are no Americans. Tikrit is very bad -- there are mass arrests, curfews, no services, no electricity."
The above is from Edward Wong's "Iraqi Arabs See Unlikely Haven With Old Foes" in this morning's New York Times. Wong's reporting on the development of Arab Iraqis moving into "the secure provinces of Iraqi Kurdistan" and what that means in terms of the region. That issue has a number of people concerned and domestic (US) members should note the fears and qualms expressed by some that the region will lose its own identity. (Does the GOP that screams about immigration in this country realize what's going on in Iraq? Someone get Denny Hastert on the phone quickly!) Among the 39,000 families that have relocated (Wong notes the figure is higher than that given out by the Iraqi Ministery of Migration and Displacement), he quoted Naseer al-Yasiri whose family has moved from Baghdad, "Of course I miss Baghdad. But when you see it now, it's a ghost city. Who's left there? Terrorists."
What remains in the 'crackdown' capital? From the AFP's "Iraqis burn books to protest 'culture-killing' curfew:"
Several of Iraq's leading booksellers and writers have burnt a pyre of books to denounce a curfew which they said has turned the centre of Baghdad's intellectual life into "a street of ghosts".
In a demonstration dubbed the "Fires of Al-Mutanabi", authors and publishers denounced a weekly four-hour travel ban during Friday prayers in the war-torn Iraqi capital, which they said was stifling an important cultural centre.
As for the migration to the Kurdistan provinces, as Michael R. Gordon details (see previous entry), the violence and chaos is spreading.
Back to the Times, David E. Sanger takes a look at the changes in Bully Boy's public statments with "Bush's Shift of Tone on Iraq: The Grim Cost of Losing" and (it's a news analysis) draws historical comparisons. The historical comparisons may lead you to wonder if the Pentagon's report prepared for Congress says what it says, what do today's Pentagon Papers say? (You know they exist.) Sanger rightly compares Bully Boy's 'There's terrorism there's terrorism everywhere and if we leave Iraq we are allowing it to spread' to LBJ's talk of the domino theory (just as flawed).
But he leaves out the most obvious comparison: Harold of The Music Man.
Bully Boy's got his chest puffed out and his lie face on as he struts and sings: "Ya got trouble, my friend, right here, I say, trouble right here in River City. " Being an American musical, it has a happy semi-happy ending. (For River City, not for the other communities scammed by Harold.) For those thinking that Bully Boy can form a band, they might need to grasp that even the conventions of musical theater dictated that Harold be exposed as a fraud before the redemption enters the picture. Need more comparisons? Marian is . . . a librarian and Laura Bush is a former librarian. It's The Music Man done as a tragedy while the world watches.
Bully Boy sings, "Ya got trouble, my friend, right here, I say, trouble right here . . . and that starts with 'T' and that stands for terrorism . . . Ya got trouble." Of course The Bully Boy's Illegal War has run for 1263 days (and counting) already with no end in sight but The Music Man only ran on Broadway (original run) for 1,375 performances. And, another difference, The Music Man entertained audiences.
The Bully Boy's Illegal War? Comic relief is apparently supposed to be provided by scenes of military handovers that don't take place due to confusion and inept planning. ("Ha! Ha! The illegal occupation goes so poorly that they can't even pull off a cerominal photo-op!") As these events become more common place, to the question of "Who will pull back the curtain?" must be added, "Who will bring down the curtain?" It's past-time this play closed. (But the press raved so over it in out of town tryouts!)
Some of those not tapping their feet and humming along can be found in Martha's highlight, from Jonathan Finer's "Orphans in Iraq's Storm: Despite Stigma, Growing Number of Children Ending Up in Public Care" (Washington Post):
Athier Hamed first came to the Baghdad orphanage two years ago when his mother died suddenly and his father, he said, "lost his mind."
"He got angrier and angrier with me, and hurt me like it was nothing," said Athier, soft-spoken and slender, pulling up his sleeves to show waxy scars on his wrists from handcuffs he said his father, in a fit of rage, tried to weld to his arms.
Fearing for his life, Athier, now 13, ran away, talking a bus driver into giving him a ride to the Iraqi capital from his small home town in the western province of Anbar. Police took him to the First House for the Child, founded in 2003 as the number of abandoned and orphaned children in the Iraqi capital began to surge.
But when visiting government officials interviewed him about his past, they decided to return him to his father. It didn't last long.
"I said I didn't want to go back, but they said I should be with my own family," Athier said in a recent interview at the orphanage. "I couldn't bear being back with him. After two days, he hit me and I came back here."
Athier again became a ward of the state, a status increasingly common here despite a stigma so strong it has prompted the financially strapped government to pay families to take their children back.
Before the U.S. invasion in 2003, about 400 children lived in Iraqi orphanages, to which Saddam Hussein often paid high-profile visits to demonstrate his magnanimity. But by early 2006, that number had grown to nearly 1,000, according to government statistics. For a country that has been at war or under crippling economic sanctions for more than 25 years, the numbers are still smaller than might be expected. But Islamic society considers it shameful to abandon children to public care, so traditionally most children who lose parents are absorbed into vast family networks.
Wong's article also notes orphans in this passage:
He [Abdul Rhaman] and his wife, who is half-Kurdish, brought along their two children and Rusol, a young girl whose father was arrested by the Americans after the invasion. No one knows his fate. Rusol's older sister died of "crying and too much depression," Mr. Abdul Rahman said.
Alternative headline for the day. The AP offers "Bush: Iraq has not fallen into civil war" and reality offers "Bully Boy: Iraq has been pushed into civil war." It didn't fall, it was pushed.
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