Friday, July 23, 2004

The land of "spies".

Yesterday I went to the barber to have a hair cut. This hair dressing shop that I usually go to ( and have made a sort of friendship with the owner) lies in Adhamyia district, the neighborhood that’s known to be the most anti-American and that showed the most notable resistance to OIF in Baghdad. This is the place where Saddam was seen in public for the last time before his regime collapsed. There’s hardly a day pass without hearing explosions and gun fire in this area, and as one enters this area he’s faced with slogans condemning American presence and the members of the new government written on the walls and other slogans cheering Saddam signed by Baáthists and Saddam’s Fedaáeen.

In this neighborhood lies the tomb and mosque of "Imam Abu Hanifa al Noman", the imam that has the largest number of followers among Muslim Sunnis all over the world. This mosque often witnesses demonstrations against foreign presence and American policy in Iraq.

The barber’s shop was a place where I could know more about the situation in this highly unstable neighborhood. Everyone here talks about politics but you can sense an evident fear when talking about Baáthists and Fedaáyeen here, unlike most of Iraq, as no one dares to say that what happened was right. Everybody is afraid of the revenge of the brutal criminals who are more than ready to kill a man or a woman for just one word and in the most horrible ways.
The last operations carried out by the IP and the National Guard with support from the American army had directed strong blows to these gangs, minimizing their capability to move and carry attacks, as they have found themselves in a defense now; a position that is highly unfavorable for guerilla fighters who find themselves more comfortable with the ‘cut and run’ tactics.

However the remaining members of these gangs and as a result of the death and arrest of many of their leaders and symbols and feeling being almost besieged and with hostility everywhere, have started to show more aggressive attitude, as they know that their neighbors and probably relatives must have a role in detecting their moves and supplying Iraqi and American intelligence with the necessary information to transfer into the aggression.

Now everyone is their enemy and "woe" to anyone who dare to say anything against them or the so-called resistance or even to show the slightest support to the changes taking place in Iraq. They’re now taking cover in the narrow streets that barely let a car pass through and carrying revenge attacks killing many locals believing that they might have been suppling IP with information. There are rumors all the time of these Feda’aeen beheading "traitors" and informers in public. These of course are exaggerations but these thugs know that terrorizing people with such rumors is their strongest weapons left taking advantage of the fear that still inhabits the hearts of many Iraqis from the nightmares of the recent past.

I was sitting there waiting for my turn when someone came in and after "Al Salaamu Slaikum" and "Allah bil khair" he asked the barber, "Did you see the last list of the agents and spies in street no. 20?" "No, how many names are there in this one?" said the barber.
"This one is short. There are only 250 names in it" said the guy. No one commented on this, as it may be dangerous to say what you really believe in this neighborhood. I volunteered to break the silence, "250!! These are all traitors? If there are 250 traitor in one single block then how many honest people are left in this street?" one of the guys said, "Very little. This place is filled now with agents and spies."

I smiled inside as I remembered the days of Saddam when we couldn’t dare to speak fearing Saddam’s agents who seemed to be everywhere. I was living a somewhat reversed picture from the past and it was a bit amusing. I went adding, " I don’t think it’ll take a long time before things get better" This phrase could be interpreted in 2 different ways but still no one dared to approve of what I said. People here are still afraid of a very small criminal group that is capable of everything and believe they’re the only ones who are right and who have honor while all the rest are cowards spies who should be killed without hesitation.

This was the way Saddam and his assistants used to think. They thought that if they had to sacrifice 24 million Iraqis for the rest to live "honorably" then that was what they would do with clear conscience.

These people who are still fighting think in the same way. They carry Saddam mentality ; they and only they are right while everyone else are wrong and there’s no other solution for this problem in their minds other than exterminating them. There’s no place for a dialog in their dictionary and with these you can put the extremist Islamists like Bin laden, Zargawi and even their ‘child’s play’ Sadr. I want to say that I think there’s no use of negotiating with these people who process the absolute truth and are willing to kill everyone who oppose them even if by words. Firm dealing with their ill mentality that’s polluted by illusions from the remote past is what we need and what we should not hesitate to apply.

It seems that the vast majority of Iraqis have agreed to become "spies" and offer help to the IP, national guard and the Americans, and maybe the last series of operations carried in this area as well as other places with similar demography prove that such change in people’s attitude is real. There’s a high coordination between the people and the IP, new army and the Americans, and it has become a regular thing to read in the newspapers about locals giving information about land mines or foreigners in their neighborhood with suspicious behavior and several successful arrests were made and many lives were saved as a result of this cooperation.

These facts will certainly lead those criminals to act more hysterically and they may appear in the streets in a suicidal manner to show their presence and their strength just as they did before in many occasions in futile attempts to reverse history.
Everyday passes make me surer than before that Iraqis have made up their minds and that there will be no turning back.

-By Mohammed.


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