"Today, most of Baghdad's neighborhoods are being patrolled by coalition and Iraqi forces who live among the people they protect. Many schools and markets are reopening. Citizens are coming forward with vital intelligence. Sectarian killings are down. And ordinary life is beginning to return." — President Bush, Thursday evening, in his speech on Iraq
To paraphrase Inigo Montoya..."I do not think that word means what he thinks it means."Only a dolt would use the word "ordinary" to describe a city in which armed gunmen ethnically cleanse neighborhoods, a household is lucky to receive two hours of electricity a day, and the water supply, when available, is not potable. Violence is verifyably down somewhat, but that is due to the fact that the ethnic cleansing has been, for the most part, successful, and the remaining holdouts hunker down and venture not outside, lest they encounter militias that will kill them.
Pardon me, and my ignorance might be because I'm an unsophisticated, state-schools-educated hick, but that does not sound like it would fit anyones definition of "ordinary" to me. Maybe an Ivy Leaguer can enlighten me? (I'll read slow and promise not to move my lips...)
Yousef al Mousawi, a 28-year-old Shiite resident of Sadr City, told this story Friday: Two days ago, his friend Mustafa was kidnapped from his computer shop. He was later found dead, shot in the head. It wasn't unusual. In his neighborhood — controlled by the Mahdi Army militia, loyal to cleric Muqtada al Sadr — he sees bodies every day.
Traffic jams terrify him, he said. He was wounded by a car bomb last year and has traveled the region since for medical treatment.
"The Mahdi Army isn't just killing Sunnis now, they are killing Shiites as well," he said. "I go to university, I'm afraid of suicide bombers and car bombs. I come home and I'm afraid of the Mahdi Army. We're living in fear, endless fear."
This week saw the start of the holy month of Ramadan - the month-long observance where practicing Muslims fast from sunup to sundown, and feast every evening. This year, the feasts are spare, and usually dependent upon the fare available from a lone grocer. Trips to various markets throughout the city are too dangerous, so people make do. Especially Sunnis in a Shi'ite capital.
"It has become a dream for us to shop from any central market. No way can I roam freely in Baghdad. I can barely get from home to work, there are so many checkpoints manned by people I don't trust."
"By what standards can I consider this life ordinary?" he asked. "Would Mr. Bush consider my life normal if he knew the details? Would any American?"
One Sunni who was willing to speak to reporters for McClatchy was a 36 year old man who lives in Mansour, in central Baghdad. He maintains that when he plans trips across the city, he plots his course carefully, trying to make sure he only passes through Sunni neighborhoods, because if the wrong person looked at his (authentic) ID, and his tribal identity was known, he could lose his life.
Again. Mr. pResident, what part life, as described by that Iraqi is "ordinary"?
Or this one, for that matter:
[A university student] he fears leaving the neighborhood because the checkpoints are manned by police commandos, units known to be rife with Shiite militiamen, who alert gunmen in civilian cars to attack suspected Sunnis. Three days ago, a father and son were killed at a checkpoint, he said.And folks...it's up to you to bring on the outrage...on that bit, I am calling it a night.
Bush, he said, "is speaking the opposite of what's going on on the ground."