The Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena wrote the following piece yesterday for Il Manifesto. Alert readers will recall that Sgrena was kidnapped in Iraq and after her release, shot at by U.S. soldiers on her way to the Baghdad airport with the two Italian intelligence agents who had rescued her. She and one of the agents were wounded. The other agent, Nicola Calipari, was killed.
Gonzalo Hernández Baptista, a member of Rebelión and the Tlaxcala Collective translated the original Italian to Spanish, and Machetera took it from there.
Five years of fabrications. Bush had wanted a war against Iraq, basing it on a lie (the presence of arms of mass destruction) while he continues to conceal defeat under the guise of various unfounded victories. The reality is hidden behind a wall of falsehoods. Yesterday, on the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the war, Bush spoke of “a great victory in the war against terrorism.” What a slip. The CIA has already denied the existence of any link between Saddam and al Qaeda, while Iraq is presently flooded with terrorisim. The only ones who rise to the stature of defeating terrorism are Saddam’s ex-military, the groups which Petraeus has financed and armed against al Qaeda. A marriage of convenience: the terrorists had converted themselves into an annoying and unpopular ally for the guerrillas (by the indiscriminate slaughter of Iraqis). But a separation could be imminent and the General, therefore, is going to encounter an even stronger enemy. Petraeus has not moved closer to peace, he’s moved further away. But Bush doesn’t want to admit it.
The temporary truce in Baghdad has been imposed by Sahwa Sunni groups, but it will not last much longer. The suicide attempts of recent days have caused the country to fall back into fear. The newest development has been the kamikaze women, the only equality recognized among Iraqis who have lost their rights and dignity. It’s increasingly common for wives of abductees to be forced to endure repeated rapes in exchange for seeing their husbands alive again, who then may leave a woman because she has lost her honor.
The victims are increasing, especially the civilians. How many Iraqi victims are there? The figures are senseless. They go from 100,000 to a million. No-one counts the dead. The only lesson learned from Vietnam: if the dead are not counted, they do not exist. In the United States the coffins arriving from Baghdad cannot even be seen. And if you can’t see the coffins, the bodies are also invisible.
Whoever has hopefully entered the city, with the idea that things have changed and it’s worth the trouble, has found something to the contrary, a ghostly city. The cement barriers don’t protect anything – except in the Green Zone – rather, they divide ethnically cleansed neighborhoods. The cement barriers provide no security. The people are terrorized. No-one dares to venture an opinion in front of a stranger, for fear that they may be associated with one group or another or with the militias who kidnap people. To speak English brings immediate suspicion that one is in contact with foreigners, which is understood as collaboration. The reporters in Baghdad live in the Green Zone or barricaded in the Hotel Hamra, poolside, protected by high walls all round. Journalists walk with continual escort, never stopping more than 15 minutes anywhere. Never before has a war tried to hide itself with such tenacity. But could it be otherwise? A war and an occupation based on fabrications can never tolerate the right to information, especially if it is independent.