Jamail Blog From Baghdad
By Dahr Jamail
20 April, 2004
The New Standard
on the street in Baghdad is that the the cessation of suicide car bombings
is proof that the CIA was behind them. Why? Because as one man states,
"[CIA agents are] too busy fighting now, and the unrest they wanted
to cause by the bombings is now upon them." True or not, it certainly
doesn't bode well for the occupiers' image in Iraq.
The night before
last I was awakened by a very large explosion in central Baghdad, followed
promptly by three other smaller explosions. This morning, I awoke to
another large explosion, again followed by several smaller ones.
With so many journalists
leaving Iraq, and the majority of those that remain staying close to
their hotels, it's becoming harder to come by accurate information aboutevents
occurring on the ground.
For those of us
here, it has, needless to say, travel has become increasing difficult
because of the deteriorating security situation.
Aside from the usual
bombs and sporadic gunfire that typifies daily (and nightly) life in
the capital of Iraq today, it continues to be relatively quiet here,
at least compared to other parts of Iraq. The feeling I get is that
most Iraqis here (aside from those directly fighting the military) are
in wait-and-see mode, their eyes on Najaf and Falluja.
But this belies
the true story, that despite the lack of overt fighting in central Baghdad,
violence and tension are boiling beneath the surface. On a recent visit
to the Arabic Children's Hospital, Dr. Waad Edan Louis, the Chief Visiting
Doctor at the hospital, stated, "Before the invasion, we had 300
patients per night. Now, we have 100 because the security is so bad."
Meanwhile, at the
Noman Hospital in Al-Adhamiya, a doctor I spoke with there (who asked
to remain nameless) stated, "We are treating an average of one
gunshot wound per day, which is something we never saw before the occupation.
This is due to the absence of law in Baghdad. The Iraqi Police have
weak weapons and nobody respects their authority."
He also stated that
U.S. soldiers have come to the hospital asking for information about
resistance fighters. He said, "My policy is not to give my patients
to the Americans, or to provide them any information. I deny information
to the Americans for the sake of the patient. I don't care what my patients
have done outside the walls of the hospital. I do my job, then let the
"Ten days ago
this happened -- this occurred after people began to come in from Falluja,
even though most of them were children, women and elderly."
When asked if the
U.S. military were bombing civilians in Falluja, he stated, "Of
course the Americans are bombing civilians, along with the revolutionaries.
One year ago there was no revolution in Falluja. But they began searching
homes and humiliating people, and this annoyed the people. The people
became angry and demonstrated, then the Americans shot the demonstrators,
and this started the revolution in Falluja. It is the same in Sadr City."
He continued angrily,
"Aggression against civilians has caused all of this. Nothing happened
for the first two months of the occupation. People were happy to have
Saddam gone. And now, we hope for the mercy of God if the Americans
Cluster bombs arereported
to have been used commonly in Iraq both during the invasion and the
Another doctor at
Noman Hospital, who asked to remain anonymous, stated that he saw the
U.S. military dropping cluster bombs on the Al-Dora area last December,
"I've seen it all with my own eyes. The U.S. later removed the
unexploded bombs by soldiers picking up the bomblets and putting them
in their helmets."
He also believes
that cluster bombs are currently being used in Falluja, based on reports
from field doctors presently working there, as well as statements taken
from wounded civilians of Falluja.
He also claimed
that many of the Falluja victims he had treated had been shot with dum-dum
bullets', which are hollow point bullets that are designed to inflict
maximum internal damage. These are also referred to as expanding
Nearing the end
of the discussion, the first doctor stated, "The U.S. induces aggression.
If you don't attack me, I will never attack you. The U.S. is stimulating
the aggression of the Iraqi people!"
A doctor who asked
to remain anonymous at Al-Karam Hospital in Baghdad reported that another
doctor from his hospital had just returned from Najaf. She was unable
to work there, she told Al-Karam, because Spanish military forces had
occupied its hospital. The roof of the Al-Sadr Teaching hospital in
Najaf overlooks their base, so soldiers have taken it over for strategic
The doctor at Al-Karam
Hospital stated, "The Americans don't care what happens to Iraqis."
At Al-Kerh Hospital
in Baghdad there is a similar story. One of the managers at the hospital,
speaking on condition of anonymity, stated, "U.S. soldiers are
always coming here asking us for information about our wounded, but
we don't give them any information."
the Assistant Administrator at the Mohammed Baker Hakim Hospital in
Sadr City, said that while no soldiers had occupied or visited the hospital,
U.S. soldiers shot one ambulance from his hospital, injuring the driver.
He also stated that during the first day of fighting in Sadr City two
weeks ago, he received 32 dead bodies, mostly of women and children,
and 90 wounded.
At Yarmouk Hospital,
a lead doctor discussed the situation in Falluja.
He said that during
the first days of the U.S. siege of Falluja, many of the wounded were
brought to his hospital. He continues, "The Americans came here
to question my patients, even though we tried to refer the soldiers
to a different hospital."
He is outraged by
the situation in Falluja, which he calls a massacre, "The Americans
shot at some of our doctors who were traveling to Falluja to provide
aid. One of our doctors was injured when a missile struck his vehicle.
I have also been told by my doctors in Falluja that the Americans are
shooting ambulances there, as well as at the main hospital there."
He continued, "My
doctors in Falluja have reported to me that the Americans are using
cluster bombs. Patients we've treated from there are reporting the same."
It is argued that
the use of cluster bombs is a war crime, at least in spirit, if not
technically. Cluster bombs contravene the international treaty against
land mines -- which the U.S. has refused to sign anyway -- because they
leave unexploded ordnance where they are dropped, which then has the
same effect as land mines.
He continued, "One
of my doctors in Falluja asked the Americans there if he could remove
a wounded patient from the city. The soldier wouldn't let him move the
victim, and said, We have dead soldiers here too. This is a war
zone.' The doctor wasn't allowed to remove the wounded man, and he died.
So many doctors and ambulances have been turned back from checkpoints
This same doctor
reported that he saw American soldiers killing women and children, as
well as shooting ambulances in Falluja.
The doctor I spoke
with expressed his outrage, "What freedom did America bring us?
Freedom of the machine gun? So I am free to take my gun and shoot you?"
Dahr Jamail is Baghdad
correspondent for The NewStandard. He is an Alaskan devoted to covering
the untold stories from occupied Iraq. You can help Dahr continue his
crucial work in Iraq by making donations. For more information or to
donate to Dahr, visit The