February 7, 2007
The ‘surge’ is going well. With streets blocked by check points and American troops ‘advising’ Iraqi forces, on consequtive days, the Bab Sharqi market was attacked, body parts strewn amongst stalls, goods – and bodies and injured hauled away on the wooden carts used to bring goods to sell. Shorja market was next in firing line, with its covered and outdoor stalls, alleys, serving all from traders who used to come from Kurdistan for the cheaper Baghdad price (road now too dangerous) locals, the Catholic priest, workers and refugees housed in the church moments walk away.
Next was the Friday Ghazil animal market, believed the oldest in the Middle East, a weekly amble through the exotic, the heartbreaking, the songbirds, snakes and the illicit. An exceptional act of bravery was the attack on the bird market. It takes a particularly fearless mindset to declare a war on birds. The mortars which landed in the Kholoud secondary school, in west Baghdad’s Adil district, killing five students and injuring twenty, shredding young bodies with flying glass, were reportedly fired just thirty metres from a ‘surge’ crackdown checkpoint.
In 2003 Baghdad’s ancient Muntanabi book market, a place to wander in wonder at its offerings, was blown up. It had stood on the site for inumerable generations, books laid out on the street, on tressles, on laps – and in the ancient alleyways and covered nooks and crannies, near dark, where the dust was blown off seventeenth century gems and first editions of the wonders of french philosphers, poets. Goethe, Shakespeare, Dickens, hid on piled shelves, no country’s greats seemingly not to be found. The booksellers, professional or amateur, handled their volumes as if fragile, utterly precious. A purchase meant a parting.
‘Bring ’em on’ : the books, the birds, the kids, in this ‘last ditch crackdown’, part of a plan devised by George W. Bush, according to Al Jazeera. Perhaps when the last remnant of Mesapotamia’s ancient heart and soul has been finally ripped out and the last Iraqi has left or been slaughtered, the new pioneers will arrive and build Walmarts, Starbucks, Kentucky Frieds, Mesapotamia Mackburgers, from northern Nineveh’s wonders to Basra, from Babylon to Eden (Qurna.) The myriad marvels of this extraordinary land are truly pearls cast amongst swine – the occupying, brute forces.
The duty of care these illegal occupiers have is total, thus they are responsible for ever tragedy. But so depraved are these new Mongols, they have moved on from sending pictures of burned and slaughtered Iraqis to porn sites in exchange for their revolting images and reportedly now collect Iraqis’ brain matter for ‘trophies’ to put in the fridge back at base. Heaven help the communities to which they return and the children they raise. And again, from where are these deviants recruited? Such psychotic sicknesses could surely only have come from a recruiting drive in secure psychiatric institutions, or maximum security penal institutions.
The grief of non Iraqis can never mirror that of Iraqis with the courage to live through this hell, or those forced to flee all they held dear and watch its destruction from afar. But the horrors of the last near four years for those who love this incomparable place, surely feels like the real thing.
Read the rest here.