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Goodbye to Baghdad

Goodbye to Baghdad (Guardian). Some good snippets:

The information ministry and TV headquarters were obvious targets (for looters), but the wanton destruction of St George’s church was unexpected. … A man living next door to the church said Christians were seen as part of the regime.

Tariq Aziz, after all, is a Christian. Also, this — I knew it! —

The US tanks that shot their way into the city have lost their menace. Children now go right up to the US soldiers, smile, and swear at them in Arabic, finding it hilarious that the troops think they are being friendly.

And the politics of the Shia/Sunni divide:

‘The whole administration has been robbed and destroyed, except for those institutions which have been guarded by them (provisional Shia local government),’ said the hospital director. He was transparently unhappy at having to take orders from the Shia clergy, but said America had left him no choice.

‘Without them, this hospital would have vanished. We have no civilian administration now. Until now America hasn’t done anything for the civilian administration. They are just occupying us and doing nothing.’

The doctor’s dilemma raises a larger question. Did Bush go to war on Saddam Hussein’s secular dictatorship to pave the way for an Islamist Shia regime bordering Iran? Because that is what is beginning to take root in Saddam City, and in other neighbourhoods of Baghdad. ….

The new Shia assertiveness – whether through ambitions of religious government or the exuberance with which millions this week participated in a religious pilgrimage banned under Saddam – has horrified the Iraqi middle and upper classes, and the minority Sunni elite, which has been the traditional ruler of Iraq from the days of the Ottoman empire.

Like the Americans, they have been slow to react these past two weeks, stunned by the speed with which the regime collapsed and mortified by the knowledge that millions have watched on TV as Iraqis laid waste to their own country, and history.

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