Saving the Supporters, But Not the "Enemy"

We have to wonder what might happen if instead of letting him bleed to death, the fighters had helped the wounded fellow in the last paragraph below. What if they all started doing that, helping their “enemies”? Just a thought ….

IRAQ: Fighters fill humanitarian vacuum

BAGHDAD, 14 February 2007 (IRIN) – Militia fighters and insurgents responsible for much of the internecine violence in Iraq are also offering humanitarian assistance to their own communities to fill a vacuum left by the government and aid agencies.

“It is the minimum that we can do as the Iraqi government is weak. Some people need medical assistance, others food and since they are our followers, we have to support them,” said Ali Jalil, a spokesman for the Mahdi Army, commanded by religious leader Muqtada al-Sadr and the most powerful Shia Muslim militia in the country.

Because of the high levels of insecurity in Iraq, most international aid agencies have left the country – the United Nations moved its agencies to Jordan in August 2003 following two deadly attacks on its Baghdad compound.

Now, the Iraqi Red Crescent is the only aid agency working throughout the country, and even they have had their operations hampered by violence and it is becoming increasingly difficult for aid workers to gain access to the needy.

In recent months, fighters have been offering all kinds of assistance to their respective sectarian groups, from the provision of food supplies, clothes and blankets to physical security.

“We have been looking for this assistance from different countries and organisations, which I prefer not to name as the [Iraqi] government might think they are supporting us with arms,” Jalil said. “Mainly, we get assistance from all over Iraq, from thousands of donation boxes that are stuffed with cash every week after Friday prayers in mosques.”

Assistance only for supporters

It is clear that such assistance is given only to those families who have relatives supporting a particular militia group, as was explained by Umm Hassan, 53, from Sadr city, a suburb of Baghdad controlled by the Mahdi Army.

“One of my sons was hit by US troops and on the same day my other son had serious convulsions. I went to one of [Muqtadar]al-Sadr’s offices in our district seeking help. The first question they asked me was if my boys were fighting under the name of the Mahdi Army. When I said they were, they gave me everything I wanted,” Umm Hassan said.

“But a month ago the same happened to the son of my neighbour who was shot by the Iraqi military. When she asked for their help and they knew he was not supporting the militia, they let him die of bleeding in the middle of the street,” she said.

Read the rest here.

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