Hussein's dream is that the "kind doctors" in Amman will make him as pretty as the rest of his family. "Mama," he says every day, "look at how beautiful and perfect the eyes and eyebrows of Zeid and Sajad are. When can mine be the same?"
Hussein was 10 months old and asleep in his cot having his morning nap when a car bomb exploded outside the family home in Hilla, 60 miles south of Baghdad, four years ago. Burning shrapnel rained through the windows of his house and the nylon sheets on his cot caught fire.
As the flames took hold, the synthetic fabric melted and stuck to the baby's skin. His screams brought his mother, Hind Ghazi, 26, rushing into the bedroom. "There was fire on his face and some parts of his body, and where there was no fire his skin had turned black, especially his hands and fingers," she recalls. "I started to dab the fire with my hands and I covered him with a cloth and carried him outside as I wailed and cried for help."
The above is from Hala Jaber's "Christmas Appeal: How you can help the children of Iraq" (Times of London) who goes on to explain that Doctors Without Borders had to leave Iraq in 2004 due to the violence and, while it is still not safe to return, they have set up a clinic in Amman, Jordan where they provide assistance to Iraqis. The assistance is needed because Iraq has a huge shortage of doctors (of trained nurses as well, but the report doesn't note that). In the 90s, the country had approximately 34,000 and, of that figure, 20,000 have departed Iraq.
Meanwhile the abuse of Iraqis by foreign forces receives attention. Joe Sterling (CNN) reports US Sgt Jarrett Taylor was court-martialed on Friday "for mistreating troops in Iraq". From M-NF, here's their press release on that:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RELEASE No. 20091121-01
November 20, 2009
Soldier found guilty of maltreatment
Camp Arifjan, Kuwait -- A U.S. Army Soldier has been found guilty of making false official statements and cruelty and maltreatment of subordinates.
Sgt. Jarrett Taylor, 23, from Edmond, Okla., was found guilty during a special court martial that concluded today.
Sgt. Taylor was found guilty of violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice Article 93, Cruelty and Maltreatment; and Article 107, Making a False Official Statement. He was sentenced to confinement for 180 days, reduction to the rank of Private E-1, and forfeiture of $933 in pay for six months.
Sgt. Taylor was one of four Soldiers charged Aug. 19. Another Soldier, Spec. Daniel Weber, 24, from Frankenmuth, Mich., was discharged in lieu of a court martial.
Two other Soldiers, Staff Sgt. Enoch Chatman, 30, from West Covina, Calif., and Staff Sgt. Bob Clements, 29, from Eastland, Texas, are subject to a pending future General Court Martial.
FOR THIS PRESS RELEASE AND OTHERS, VISIT WWW.MNC-I.COM
Sterling notes, "Taylor was among four Multi-National Division South soldiers who were charged with cruelty and maltreatment of soldiers in their platoon, Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, MNF-South spokesman in Basra, told CNN in an email Saturday. All were from the 13th Cavalry Regiment out of Fort Bliss, Texas. The charges, filed August 19, stemmed from information discovered during an investigation of Pvt. Keiffer P. Wilhelm's suicide in August." This comes as Danny Brierley (Independent of London) reports British Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth will announce to the House of Commons Wednesday a "new public inquiry into fresh allegations of torture against British troops" with a "focus on the Battle of Danny Boy, which took place in May 2004 and involved soldiers from the Argyll and Southern Highlanders and the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment."
Meanwhile the Observer features an article by Alissa J. Rubin which was published previously in the New York Times Sunday Magazine (back in August). Rubin reports on meeting a young Iraqi woman in police custody for attempting to become a suicide bomber. Rubin and Baida have a free flowing conversation -- or Rubin thinks so. Baida brags of how a nurse lets her keep a cell phone. Strangely no one thought to report that. Strangely no one thought to ask why the nurse would allow such a thing. Because Baida's charming? Rubin finds her charming. She begins calling for Rubin repeatedly at which point an interpreter working for the paper warns Rubin that Baida may be attempting to set up Rubin's kidnapping. Rubin meets with her again but does not give her details ahead of time. She asks Baida about that and Baida appears to think the idea just struck her but, as Baida speaks more and more, she informs Rubin that it would not bother to see someone like Rubin kidnapped and tortured.
It's a strong article and the only one by the Times that didn't attempt to patholigize gender. All other reports on female suicide bombers were written as though the (male) reporters typing up the report were doing so with one hand while the other slid down the front of their pants.
Possibly they wrote such bad reporting -- which couldn't stop marveling over how a 'girl' would become a bomber -- because of the conversations they had with (male) Iraqi authorities?
That would explain how Baida was allowed to keep a cell phone on her person while imprisoned. Suicide bombers know no gender. It's only the sick and the naive minds that can't grasp that. The naive will never learn, the sick? They appear to be in charge in Iraq and were way too stupid to grasp that when a nurse is allowing Baida to have a cell phone? That nurse is part of the problem and may even be part of the resistance. If she's not, she's far too naive to be working around prisoners.
Nouri and his crowd of thugs will always understimate women.
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the times of london
alissa j. rubin
the independent of london