Behind the Steel Curtain: The Real Face of the Occupation
/*Dirty Means, Genocide and Mass Destruction
Dedicated to the UN, UNSC and the Intel Society* /
By Sabah Ali
The Bush Administration uses double barrel propaganda today, with Mr.
Bush using a prime time television address to say things like "My fellow
citizens: Not only can we win the war in Iraq - we are winning the war
in Iraq," and responding to negative news by saying "It does not mean
that we are losing." Meanwhile, Mr. Cheney, while on a heavily guarded
tour of the "Green Zone" and other locales in Iraq said today, "I think
the vast majority of them think of us as liberators."
While the Bush Administration portrayed Thursday's Iraqi elections as a
resounding success, Iraqi political parties are complaining of
violations ranging from dead men voting to murder in the streets as
accusations begin to fly from all political corners of rampand fraud and
violence bringing the results of the vote under suspicion.
And if you want a sampling of Iraqis who Cheney spoke of, the following
is another powerful dispatch from independent Iraqi journalist Sabah
White flags on top of houses and cars, plenty of American and Iraqi
military vehicles, too many check points and blocks on the road, many
frightening walking patrols, curfew after sunset, heaps and heaps of
shops, offices, the only bridge
and medical care centers, walls covered with bullets shots, and election
posters.empty faces with bleak looks wandering in the streets. This is
the picture of Al-Qa'im
after the "Steel Curtain" military operation which began on November 5,
2005 with 3,000 American and Iraqi troops participating in it.
"You are filming our miserable condition so that Bush would pity us?!
You want to soften his heart?" asked a tiny, skinny young villager
disapprovingly, with obvious resignation. She was holding a very heavy
cooking gas tube, trying to climb the river bank
After the only bridge which connects Rummana to Al-Qa'im was severely
bombed, citizens had to cross by boat
Our driver was impatient with blocked roads, he took the nearest dusty
detour whenever he saw a queue. We arrived in Qa'im around six pm; the
darkness was already thick. Our car was almost shot by the Americans,
but the driver was very quick in going down the side road. "That's how
families get killed" said Abu Adel, a lovable old man who asked for a
lift, and who was very keen on showing us his high education by using
broken English phrases. Abu Adel was very angry because some Iraqis make
use of the refugees' misfortune and ask for double or triple rents. He
preferred to put his family in a hut rather than being blackmailed.
Electricity is cut for more than a month now, after the main station was
bombed, and the converters were bombed and the wires were cut. In the
morning Al-Qa'im looked horrible. The General Hospital was 90%
destroyed, the medical care centers, the schools, shops, houses.
The Biggest Hospital
in the Western Area
Dr. Hamdi Al-Aaloossy, the director, came to meet us outside his office.
He canceled a meeting with the reconstruction committee, "They are just
ink on paper, those meetings," he said. Dr. Hamdi is usually a very calm
and considerate man. This time he was really sad and fed up. The
destruction this time was ultimate. He was repeating a line from a
classical Arabic poem about how to complete building while others
destroy what is built. He showed us the gynecology
departments, the blood bank, the new doctors' house. All of them
completely destroyed. "They were hit by several missiles. Thanks heavens
there was no one here, just a mentally retarded and epileptic cleaning
worker." Dr Hamdi was especially sad about the gynecology dept. It was
newly rebuilt in record efforts and time, with the help of The German
Red Cross. It was not opened yet. All the machines and equipment were
destroyed, even the ambulances in the hospital garage were bombed
They were empty. There were 5 of them. Two were destroyed in the garage.
A third was destroyed when the driver Mahmood Chiad Abid tried to rescue
a family in Karabla on October 1, 2005, killing him. The rest show
obvious evidences of shots.
"But if the hospital was empty, why was it bombed? Usually the Americans
say that there were terrorists inside?!"
"I assure you that not a single body was found under the rubble, neither
any injured person. They attacked the hospital on Nov 7, two days after
the major attack on Qa'im. There were no patients, no staff and no armed
men. There was one doctor, however, who decided to stay in the hospital.
But during the bombing she hid in a neighboring house. 90% of the
hospital was destroyed. I call upon the Health Ministry, the Iraqi
Government, the Iraqi and international organizations to help us rebuild
whatever we can. Of course the departments which are bombed are beyond
repair, as you see, they have to be built anew, but we can rehabilitate
the other ones. The HM did not send any delegation to see the damage and
estimate the expenses. It is more than a month now, and the hospital is
still not working."
Al-Qa'im general hospital is one of the most important hospitals in the
far western area of Iraq. It covers the whole area from Haditha to the
borders, where there are hundreds small towns and villages. There are
several medical care units connected to it. In Haditha there is a
similar general hospital that covers the area from Haditha city beyond
till Ramadi. Both hospitals are now severely damaged and burnt.
Dr. Hamdi put 5 big tents for the medical, pediatric, and emergency
consultation departments in the hospital's garden. The other ones are
for medicine and furniture store. A small bare room was used as labor
room (where there were no equipments whatsoever to examine the mother or
the baby, just two beds). We attended an emergency operation. The
operation theater's windows, walls, and doors were broken, but the staff
did their best to keep everything clean and sterilized. Everything went
well. "You are heroes," I said. "No, just doing our best," the doctor
But they were heroes, to work in such conditions. Many of the medical
staff donated blood to patients and went back to work immediately. They
have severe shortage in oxygen tubes, so they rationed it to be used
only in emergency operations. They have no more than ten tubes. "With
people like you, there is always hope," we said. Dr. Hamdi smiled, "We
never lose hope." No media coverage was present to show the Al-Qa'im
A Family of 17 killed in few seconds
Modhhir Najim Abdulla, a security officer in the hospital took us to his
uncle's bombed house
where 17 women, children, and civilians were killed. The house of Arkan
was just heaps of concrete blocks; the roof was flattened to the ground.
There were 5 families living there. Not one of them was a stranger or a
"I just want to know why, I want a justification" Modhhir began, "the
bombing began on Nov 5, loud speakers were saying stay at home, do not
move out, and we did. 15 minutes later the bombing began. They did not
announce evacuation. We had no chance to leave." On Nov 7, we heard that
our uncle's house was bombed. We could not go to check; we went to the
nearest American troops and told them. They accompanied us, and this is
what we found."
Modhhir was not crying, but his voice was full of rage. His sister
(Najla') who was the wife of his cousin too, was pregnant in her 9th
month. She was supposed to have cesarean operation because she was a
week late for her due time. "I can not describe her and her baby when we
removed the bodies." Another cousin's baby was only 25 days. A third
child's body was not found until 2 days later. Modhhir brought the
family's IDs, death certificates, and photos.
They are: (name, age, relation to Arkan and cause of death)
Arkan Abdulla Family:
1-Alia Amir, 50, wife, smashed scull, broken ribs, burns and injuries in
the chest and abdomen
2- Asma'a Arkan, 23, daughter, suffocation
3- In'am Arkan, 14, daughter, smashed scull
4- Lubna Arkan, 12, daughter, injury in the head and suffocation
5- Abdul Razzaq Arkan, 10, son, broken ribs and suffocation
6- Mahmood Arkan, 22, son, broken scull and suffocation
Saddam Arkan Abdulla Family
7- Khatar Dahham, 28, daughter in law, injuries and broken scull
8- Dhuha S. Arkan, 10, grand daughter, broken scull and injuries in head
9- Abdulla S. Arkan, 9, grandson, intestine tear
10-Thammir S.Arkan, 4, grandson, broken ribs, bleeding inside chest and
11- Amir S. Arkan, 7, grandson, smashed scull, suffocation and legs injury
12- Yahia S. Arkan, 3, grandson, smashed scull
13- Saja S. Arkan, 2, grand daughter, smashed scull, tissue tear and
Fanar Arkan Abdulla Family
14- Najla'a Najim, 22, daughter in law, smashed scull, suffocation
15- Leila Fanar Arkan, fetus, given birth and death certificate at the
16- Ahmad Salih Amir, 25 days, nephew, injuries in head, chest and ribs.
17- Khattab Mahmood Arkan, 2, grandson, smashed scull
"Who of these do you recognize as terrorist? This one, this, or may be
this?" The pictures were of women in a party, many children in different
occasions.This is my sister, this is her son, this is my youngest
cousin..etc. He was pointing to the faces and naming them. I felt that
the list was endless. "Please stop," I said.
"Why do you think your uncle's house was bombed?" I asked.
"I do not know. I want them to answer this question. They bombed three
houses in this street. In the other one 7 children and women were
killed. It is Fuad's house, there. The third one was empty, but it is no
more than ruins. You can see it. Maybe they had wrong information about
these houses, I do not know, may be they made a mistake.but these are
not excuses. Even the American soldiers, the Iraqis, the CNN reporter
were crying when they saw what happened to my family." The family was
buried in the garden.
The American troops played a classical, colonial, very dirty trick of
divide and conquer in Al-Qa'im. They allied with one big tribe, Al bu
Mahal, against another very big one, Al-Salman. They used one as
informants against the other. These people may make mistakes, or they
may give wrong information for different reasons, but innocents get
killed in the process. In the last "Steal Curtain" operation, thousands
were arrested, and informants from the other tribe were used to pick
those who were thought to be insurgents. This story was repeated in many
places: Rumanna, Karabla, and Al-Ebeidy. Of course anyone who is branded
as a collaborator (traitor) is killed. Qa'im is one example of what is
happening in different parts of Iraq.
Faud's house was just across a dusty yard. Again it was no more than
scattered bricks and cement blocks. Nassir, a cousin was called to
describe what happened.
"We did not know, only by chance. Our house was raided, I was upset and
decided to visit my uncle Faud's house. The whole area was empty, only
the American troops were filling the place. When I approached the house,
it was as you see it now. I heard the voice my cousin Salaam and, and
his sister Anwar calling for help. They were injured. But other 7 were
killed. Cousin Isam (35), his wife (25), his children Hani (7) and
Reem(3), his sister (20), Salaam's bride, Sheima' (20), and Quteiba were
The stories of buried families under the rubbles became familiar in
Qa'im. In Mohssin Mohammad's house, near the electricity station, a
family of 20 were killed, and in Mohssin Hommadi's house 35 were killed,
we were told. "We used the food refrigerator to put the human bodies,"
A., an employee in the hospital said.
A did not leave Qa'im during the last attack. He described what happened.
"On Nov 5, at 3 am the troops were dropped in the Railway and the Saray
areas. At the same time, the bombing never stopped. Electricity was cut,
and water too. The bombing was random. The tanks dashed in the street
savagely. They bombed everything, even a small door. We were two
families staying in the whole street. My gate was already broken because
of the bombing. I crawled to open the inner doors. They were about 40
when they raided my house. They asked about terrorists and weapons. They
searched the house, and found nothing. They were attacked while they
were in my house. In 6 minutes 3 houses were destroyed in retaliation.
They told us to close our ears and open our mouths when they bomb. A
journalist accompanying them operated my generator and began to send his
story from my house. They dug trenches in the neighboring Hadg Thammer
house, opened big holes in the walls, and ruined the roof."
AM, another employee from Rummana said, "We saw 14 airplanes bombing, we
heard that there is a major attack on Huseiba. 5 days later we heard
that the attack was on Karabla and Ebeidy which was hit by 50 missiles
from dawn to sunrise at 6 am. A man said that they used white phosphorus.
"How did he know that?"
"He said that when the dead were buried, their clothes were intact, but
the bodies were like ashes when they were held. In Rummana they
collected all the men, and the Iraqis who accompanied them would point
to some who are then taken away. The troops are still occupying the
schools and the medical center. They tell the families to leave then
they blast the house. They did that with 15 houses in Rummana. In one
month, at least 150 were killed in Rummana. On Nov 15, they forced the
families to spend the night outside in Ebeidy. Two newly born babies
died in the cold."
Next day we tried to go to Rummana. It was worse than AM described. The
bridge, was bombed twice. First, no cars were able to cross, only on
foot. Then, it was bombed again in three pieces, which raise their heads
from the Euphrates as eternal witness of the American colonial barbarism.
To see more photos, click here
(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the http://DahrJamailIraq.com website. Website by photographer Jeff Pflueger's Photography Media http://jeffpflueger.com . Any other use of images, photography, photos and text including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on another website, copying and printing requires the permission of Dahr Jamail. Of course, feel free to forward Dahr's dispatches via email.
More writing, commentary, photography, pictures and images at http://dahrjamailiraq.com