Although recently a bombing killed more than 500 people in an area dominated by Yezidis, a little known religious group in northern Iraq, the Al-Aimma bridge tragedy has been the worst single event in the war. Last year we brought you a story from Sami Rasouli, who told about Othman Ali Al-Obeidi, who is famous in Iraq because he had a Sunni name, but his father’s name, Ali, is traditionally a Shi’a name. Othman was on the Iraqi swimteam and died saving Shi’a pilgrims from drowning in the Tigris. The second anniversary of the tragedy has just passed, so we are again remembering Othman and the other brave Iraqis who stood against sectarianism.
Other media agencies are falling over themselves to discuss the onset of a civil war in Iraq. It is important to take these discussions with a grain of salt. That is not to say sectarian violence, ethnic cleansing, and general chaos, insecurity, and disorder are a daily experience in Baghdad, they are. But the violence may be more organized than now discussed. Just over a year ago, Der Spiegel reported on the experience of another man living near the Al-Aimma Bridge. He made it clear that the violence is not the crazed killings of madmen, but organized political violence.
Othman Ali and many other Sunnis and Shi’as alike banded together to save their fellows. In just over one week General Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker will be brought before the US Congree for testimony about the progress of the “Surge.” The journalists, pundits, politicians, and arm-chair diplomats have already decided what to say about Iraq. The country has descended into civil war and reconciliation among parties is unthinkable. But perhaps they don’t know so much about Iraq. Glimpse of Iraq has very clearly demonstrated why Othman Ali Al-Obeidi provides such an important yet simple insight into the Iraqi experience.
We’ll be bringing you more stories from the other side of the Iraqi experience, in our own response to the Surge report, throughout the month of September. Please consider making a donation or becoming a monthly subscriber to support the important work of the Iraqi journalists who make Alive in Baghdad happen.