Free to Protest, Iraqis Complain About the U.S.

  1. Took this from aol, but it won't allow me to link it, sooooo

    Free to Protest, Iraqis Complain About the U.S.

    AGHDAD, Iraq, April 15-Protests against the American forces here are rising by the day as Iraqis exercise their new right to complain-something that often landed them in prison or worse during President Saddam Hussein's rule.

    But no one here is in the mood to note that paradox, as Iraqis confront with greater clarity their complicated reactions to the week-old American military presence here: anger at the looting; frustration at the ongoing lack of everything from electricity to a firm sense of order; fear of long-term United States military occupation.

    "Down, down U.S.A.-don't stay, go away!" chanted Ahmed Osman, 30, a teacher among the several hundred Iraqis protesting today in front of the Palestine Hotel downtown, which the marines are both guarding and using as their headquarters to recruit civil servants to reconstruct Iraq's central authority. "Bush is the same as Saddam," he said.

    The protest was small compared with the 20,000 who marched today in Nasiriya against the American presence in Iraq, but it was the largest such demonstration in Baghdad yet, prompting the marines to seal off the hotel, and the Sheraton next door, for several hours and to beef up security.

    There is no sense that these complaints-in which ordinary Iraqis have begun insistently buttonholing any Westerner who wanders by-are degenerating into violence or an unwillingness to cooperate with the Americans.

    But individual protest has almost reached a fever pitch, as scores of Iraqis around the city asked reporters if it was true that Mr. Hussein was now in the United States (the evidence: that Baghdad fell so quickly, a deal must have been struck). They are also, in greater numbers, beginning to blame American soldiers for the looting that has stripped the nation's property bare, from desk chairs to ancient Sumerian artifacts.

    "The Americans are the ones who have been looting and taking things out of the stores and giving them to families," said Amer Karim, 30, who was himself selling two industrial ceiling fans and a new telephone in a street market in the Kadhimiya section of Baghdad. "So anyone who is selling these things didn't really loot it."

    Iraq's impatience for normalcy is testing the American troops here, who are eager to show that they are trying to meet Iraqis' needs now that the main combat operations are over.

    Today, marines and Iraqi soldiers continued the joint patrols against looting that began on Monday, tramping late this afternoon over twisted metal and blasted concrete in front of a bombed government building downtown. Several shots rang out, and marines and Iraqis ran together down the building's side, finding nothing.

    "It seems like people are pretty happy to see police on the streets again," said Sgt. Lee Buttrill, 29. "And they are always happy to see us," he added, whether in earnestness or a perfect deadpan, it was hard to tell.

    The military said today that it was also close to solving one of the main sources of complaint: the lack of electricity since April 4, which has kept shops and schools closed and thus delayed a return to normal life. The military said it expected power in parts of the city to be restored in the next 48 to 72 hours.

    At the same time today, the International Committee of the Red Cross said it expected water service in eastern Baghdad to be restored Wednesday.

    In all, order seemed to spread more fully throughout the city today, even amid continuing explosions, gunfire and looting. Traffic jams returned, in some cases worse than before the war because of the military checkpoints and streets still blocked off by local gunmen. Along Jumhuriya Steet, one of the main thoroughfares, more shops were open, with people selling gasoline on the streets and changing money.

    But even as the chaos receded, the deep damage is also becoming clearer-as are the complications that Iraq will face in stitching this nation, divided among Shiite, Sunni and Kurd, back together under American administration.

    Kinda gives me mixed feelings.
  2. 22 Comments

  3. by   Mkue
    I'm glad they are finally free to speak up, something they weren't allowed to do before. Good article.
  4. by   rncountry
    Looks to me like good ole fashion blame the US, along with what seems to be a social norm in the middle east to look for any kind of conspiracy, no matter how far fetched it is. It also proves that not only Americans can be very impatient people.
    This should not be expected to be a cakewalk, it is going to be hard, and IMO there are ignorant people all over the world. Not stupid, but ignorant.
  5. by   rncountry
    Another thought. Is it not possible in the least that many who are whipping up fervor against America were not somehow part of a regime that no longer exists? I don't mean high echelon people, I am talking about others who still reaped their own kind of benefit, not to mention those that would be more than happy to step in to rule their own little fiefdom, like the Shiite cleric who declares he rules Kut?
  6. by   Mkue
    Also AOL and CNN are quick to show anti-american sentiments in Iraq. But it is good know that these people can speak up without fear of going to prison or worse.
    Last edit by mkue on Apr 16, '03
  7. by   rncountry
    And another thing, why do doesn't the Arab world protest the Syrians occupying Lebanan? Or in hand picking the govn't? Oh, I forgot we are the only ones who can be critisized.
  8. by   pickledpepperRN
    Originally posted by rncountry
    And another thing, why do doesn't the Arab world protest the Syrians occupying Lebanan? Or in hand picking the govn't? Oh, I forgot we are the only ones who can be critisized.
    I seem to remember many years of critisism of middle eastern countries in our press all my adult life.
    Actually I had to work on my pre judgement as a nurse because of Persian students when in college.

    Gosh, they love their families the same as every one else. I just deal with that when caring for people.

    Only my family, close friends and you poor readers on this BB have to put up with my opinions.
    I WILL stop if asked. You guys only. My family and friends know my love so put up with my annoying them.
  9. by   rncountry
    No, spacenurse, I'm talking about the people of the Middle East doing something besides critisizing the US. Complain about the US not doing enough in getting peace for the Palastinines, and then complain when we do. Complain that we didn't get the lights on in Baghdad fast enough, despite still being shot at, didn't protect hospitals or humanity's treasures and of course we are the occupying force, but no one complains about the Syrians occupying Lebanan or putting a puppet govn't in place for the area's they don't occupy. Did we hear a whimper of them when they knew what SH was doing? Of course not, that would threaten the way other authortarian govn'ts over there function too.
    They don't want to have any give, they want only what they can take and use, they want nothing more and no responsibility, always easier to blame someone else. The xenophobia that is displayed is even better than the Nazi's agains the Jews. Only Americans kill people right? No suicide bombers kill children, or mothers or leave them with no arms and gasping for breath through burned out lungs. Oh, but that is all in the name of Allah and Jihad so it's ok. There is the reason of getting the Palastinines a homeland too, but there is a convienent forgetting that the Palastinines had one in 1948 along side Israel, per the UN but when Israel declared independence all of her Arab Neighbors attacked her and guess what? The Palastinines lost what they had. But that is Israel's fault and the fault of the US. Anyone different is attacked and it is wrong. Tell me the murder of James Byrd in Texas was horrendous and one of the most sickening things that I have had the displeasure of witnessing, made only worse because the poor man happened to be made black by his creator and if we can react in horror over that than why is is wrong to react in horror over people's of the Middle East displaying such hatred towards those that are "different". The reality is it is the same thing, only in a different place.
    Please, please do not make comments that would make me come off as a racist. I have no patience for that whatsoever. NONE. Not once in my nearly three years on this board have I ever said or done anything that could be construed as racist, I abhor that in other people, teach my children to abhor it as well. And that includes the kind that comes from the middle east. To say it outloud is not wrong, it is what it is. Racism, ethnic hatred, religious hatred. You do of course know why Mr. Klinghoffer was picked to be the murder victim on the Achille Laurel right? A 69 year old man in a wheelchair who happened to be a JEWISH-AMERICAN.
    I will respectfully request that you do not make comments that sound as if you are the only one who may think that "others" love their families too, or can put aside any negative feelings while caring for a patient.
  10. by   pickledpepperRN

    I am truly sorry my post made you feel I was accusing you of any racism. I was talking about my 40 year old struggle not to pre judge middle eastern people because of the exchange students I knew one who married a good friend. He actually said, "I treat my dogs and women very well. His claim was that that is the way he was raised and thought women needed to be disciplined. (She divorced him and married an American).I know it was wrong and illogical to judge an entire group of people by a handful so sought out opportunities to get to know those from that part of the world. In nursing school a woman fron Iran and I carpooled to clinical. Here in LA that meant a lot of driving.
    I offer to care for people my fellow nurses don't want to deal with.
    It has been good for me to be in a caring relationship with people who because of their culture and childhood experiences behave in ways that annoy American and Asian nurses.

    I had to overcome prejudice in myself after working for civil rights in my country. I knew intellectually it was wrong, but had to learn to change my internal feelings. I was admitting my failings NOT accusing you of the same faults I am guilty of.

    On another note I agree with you again that it is the same only in another place. People have been fighting since recorded history.
    I still have hope we can learn. Smarter people than me will have to write to opinions. I try and try and know I am not explaining what I feel. Not even what I know.
    Better at nurses notes with objective findings and Quotes.

    I respectfully am sorry for clumsiness expressing myself. I NEVER thought you or anyone on this BB did not understand that all people love their families.
    I just told what I need to keep in mind when family members yell at me. Sometimes it is a fellow American calling me the 'N' word because no white nurse on the shift is competent to keep their loved one requiring a balloon pump and hemodynamic drips alive. I realize I am as imperfect as that family member so show them I am trying to help their loved one.
    Iranian families on the other hand ask for me although I know it will be a difficult night. I often get many people yelling (at least it sounds like yelling to me, there is often a wonderful "Thank you nurse" too). Their fear is palpable. Many walked at night across miles of desert hiding during the day to escape.

    Oh yes, I know people were killing each other before there was a United States of America. You will not find any posts from me defending SH, authoritarian governments, suicide bombers, the 1948 attack on Israel, Syria occupying Lebanon, jihad, or any violence that can possibly be avoided. Not once in my more than 4 years on this board have I posted any of the above.

    I'm no genius but I am no longer young either.

    Please accept my apology!
    Last edit by pickledpepperRN on Apr 17, '03
  11. by   curious
    I agree with mkue. If they feel comfortable expressing themselves that's the indication of a open society not a closed on. I think it's going to be a rocky road from here. We'll be seeing both cheers and jeers. It's to be expected.

    I'm also thinking of the mixed emotions that iraqis right now must feel. Saddam, an omniscient presence for a few decades, is now suddenly gone. But not proved dead. City is in chaos because of looters, although getting better now. If I had a family there now I would be scared to go out on the streets because of looters. I would be terrified that my children have enough food and water, and that they are not sick so I would have to try to get medical care. And I would be wondering what in the world is going to happen from here. The americans say that they are not going to let anything bad happen, but how could I trust them yet?

    Give folks a chance to sort things out.
  12. by   SharonH, RN
    Hmmm....that's very interesting.
  13. by   fergus51
    I think mixed reactions are only natural from all sides. I mean think about it from their point of view: we liberated them from a dictator, but in the process killed a lot of them and they have to sit and be patient while we decide when they can run their own country again. It's a mixed bag for everyone there, I would imagine.
  14. by   sbic56
    I can't imagine I'd be too thrilled with my liberators either, if their bombs destroyed my city and perhaps killed my family. SH was rotten to the core, but he wasn't affecting everyone at the same time the way the aftermath of the overturning of his regime is. They may have the feeling that things have gone from bad to worse, for now.

    They didn't even have the privilege of knowing what we were planning for them really. All they know is that we dropped some leaflets saying we were going to make things better for them and now they have nothing but a crushed city and anarchy. It must be terribly frightening for them. I suppose alot of their anger originates from that fear.

    It is going to be months before they can trust anything we say we are going to do for them. Their reaction is not at all suprising.