Many, Lebanon Appears
As A Mirror Image
By Brian Conley &
16 August, 2006
BAGHDAD, Aug 15 (IPS)
- Iraqis are beginning to see striking similarities between Lebanese
civilians and their own position three years ago.
Talk on the streets of Baghdad
is taking a tone of oneness with the Lebanese. An anger over the bombing
of Lebanon that Iraqis say they can feel as their own has led to some
of the world's biggest demonstrations against the Israeli attacks on
Lebanon. Shia militant leader Muqtada Sadr has led one of the largest
demonstrations against Israel.
"We know very well that
American politicians support Israel and sent them new bombs to attack
Lebanon," Abu Muhammed, who was a senior intelligence officer during
Saddam Hussein's regime told IPS. "At the same time, they send
aid to Lebanon, such as food and water. They did the same in Afghanistan
and Iraq before. But we don't need their aid -- we need them to be out
of our country and away from all of the Middle East."
New frustration is rife within
Baghdad. The United States response in support of Israel has further
sharpened opposition to the U.S.-led occupying army.
"I hate American politicians
because they occupy Iraq, and I hate them more because they help Israel
to bomb Lebanon now," said Baghdad resident Uday Adel. "I
feel ashamed of Arab politicians when they asked Bush for help to stop
this war against Lebanon."
Asked how he felt about Israeli
civilians who were killed or injured by Hezbollah rockets, Uday said
he was opposed to all killing of innocent people.
"But this is war, and
Israel chose this way," he said. "Hezbollah wants to resist
Israel and their weapons are old, this is why they use Katyusha (rockets).
This is a very old weapon, sometimes it goes to the wrong place and
kills innocent Israeli people. Israel has new weapons but they intend
to kill innocent Lebanese people."
Much of the outpouring of
anger comes from Iraqi Shias in sympathy with Shia Hezbollah, apart
from empathy over the bombing of civilians. But concern and sorrow over
what the Lebanese have suffered appeared to be universal throughout
"I was shocked when
I saw that all of the world did nothing to stop this war," said
Nora al-Samarrai in Baghdad. "This is a good time to see how much
American politicians support Israel against the Arabs. I hope all the
Arab people begin understanding how Israel is a big enemy against the
Arabs, supported by the U.S. and most of Europe's countries."
Nora compared the response
of Arab leaders in the Lebanon conflict to similarly inadequate action
against the United States intervention in Iraq.
"This isn't the first
time, Arab politicians did this before with Iraq when the U.S. forces
attacked in 1991, 1998 and 2003. Arab politicians don't represent the
Arab people, they represent themselves only."
The continued fighting in
their own country has added to the particular connection Iraqis feel
with events in Lebanon.
Abu Mohammed said Iraq had
really been at war since 1980 (when the eight-year war with Iran began),
with little reprieve. "Our hearts are with the innocent people
in Lebanon, we know very well what war means."
Some Iraqis spoke of the
hand of Iran behind the scene in the Lebanon war. Since the rise of
Shias in Iraq, many Sunnis see Iranian conspiracies behind their troubles.
"I think the war against
Lebanon is big Iranian game to keep Iran safe from the United States
and Israel," said Baghdad resident Wisam Ashkah. "Hezbollah
is an Iranian party and they serve Iran, and the big loser in this war
is the Lebanese people."
Wisam Ashkah added, "I
am ready to help them with all of my money, and my life also."
He qualified this offer, however, saying that Iraqis feel helpless,
and do not know where to begin to offer their support.
Abu Mohammed said the opposition
to the United States transcends any Sunni-Shia divisions. "The
Sunni in Iraq will be with the Shia in Iraq and with Lebanon and Syria
against the U.S. troops and Israel. We are all Arab and Muslims."
Nora al-Samarrai said she
felt with the people in Lebanon "because we have the same machine
for killing, and I hope one day we will see the American people in an
uprising against their bad politicians and change them for new politicians
working for peace."
Copyright © 2006 IPS-Inter
Press Service. All rights reserved.