Al-Arab Blog - مدونة العرب
Our women and girls are not part of it
April 5, 2004
The cycle of violence in the Iraqi town reflects rage in the face of a heavy-handed occupying power, writes Jonathan Steele.
The architecture of the Iraqi town of Falluja bears little resemblance to the narrow alleys of Gaza's impoverished refugee camps. Detached two-storey homes with palm trees and small, shaded gardens behind sand-coloured front walls stand along the wide streets, looking as comfortable as suburbs anywhere.
But as residents ushered reporters into their homes shortly before last week's attack on four American security guards, it was clear that deep communal anger was lurking here, and had reached boiling point. They wanted to show the results of several US incursions over four days and nights the previous week.
Rockets from helicopter gunships had punctured bedroom walls. Patio floors and front gates were pockmarked by shrapnel. Car doors looked like sieves. In the mayhem 18 Iraqis lay dead. On the American side, two Marines were killed. It was the worst period of violence Falluja has seen during a year of occupation.
So last week's retaliation comes as no surprise. The cycle of violence that US troops unleashed looks and feels increasingly like Palestinian rage in the face of excessive force by an occupying power.
In Falluja there are tactical differences. Few Iraqis see a need to resort to suicide, nor do they primarily choose to target civilians. The US base nearly five kilometres from town produces a ready flow of potential military victims, now supplemented by private contractors working closely with the occupation authorities.
Military convoys trundle through or near Falluja every day. The usual tactic is to ambush them with home-made bombs, followed by grenades and small arms fire when the survivors jump out of their vehicles. Then the resistance runs off into the suburban side streets.
The American response is heavy-handed and indiscriminate. "The US is indirectly supporting the resistance by targeting innocent people. It makes us more sympathetic to the resistance," Shaban Rajab, 45, a taxi driver, told me.
For Tha'ir Turki and his family the Americans piled insult on injury. They were attending the wake for their father, who had been killed on Thursday, when more grim news arrived. "Don't go home," a group of neighbours warned them. "The Americans are there."
"Even if there was some resistance among people here, what have we done? Our women and girls are not part of it," said Turki, as he showed the chaos the Marines left after sleeping in his house. He was particularly upset at finding them in his teenage sisters' bedroom. Little jewellery boxes were scattered across the dresser, their lids off. Women's clothes had been pulled out of drawers.
Not many of Falluja's people are former Baathist loyalists, as the Americans say. Nor have the Americans produced evidence of large numbers of foreign "jihadis". They are ordinary families, driven by nationalist pride, and increasingly by a desire to retaliate when their homes and neighbourhoods are violated and their relatives and friends killed.
"Our women and girls are not part of it" but Savage Yankees and Barbaric Americans do not have enough humanity to understand such a civilized concept.
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Anti War - Anti Racism
Let the downFall of Sharon be end to Zionism
By the Late, great political cartoonist Mahmoud Kahil