Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Sept 27 - Baghdad
Tuesday 4:30 pm

Back in Baghdad after a 3 1/2 hour trip from Najaf (about 20 checkpoints along the way) We have spent the past three days doing things in Kerbala and Najaf including visiting human rights and womens' groups, a trip to a school, seeing the Shrine of Imman Ali (Shi'ias holiest shrine), and meeting Muqtada al-Sadr in person (see reports about all of the fighting in Najaf in 2004 and al-Madhi army).

Iraqis watch the evening news from the US and have been very interested in what is going on with hurricanes Rita and Katrina as well as the marches in D.C. (glad to see everyone doing things on that end).

The news from Iraq, however, continues to be troublesome. Today: bomb attack of SUVs carrying security forces for American companies (Iraqis call them "shoot me" cars). Whenever anyone sees these convoys, or the military or Iraqi National Guard (ING) all the cars pull over of don't go ahead. No one wants to be near them. Five Shi'ia teachers in Baghdad were dragged from their car and killed, along with their driver. 3 US forces were killed by bombings.

Otherwise a hot busy day in Iraq....lots of cars everywhere and traffic jams with checkpoints about every 3 miles. Many bridges are closed down and highways reduced to single lanes for everyone to crawl through these checkpoint, manned either by police or the ING. The US forces either patrol from vehicles or hide behind the walls of their military bases. Iraqis are doing much of the work of security the country and checking things.

Iraqi Shi'ia, Sunni, and Christians get along mostly. Iraqis are confused about who is being all of violence that appears to try and create sectarian division. Everywhere we have been we have seen all types of Muslims and Christians working together in daily life. There are "dark forces" at work here in Iraq...say many Iraqis.

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