[Editor’s note, Omar Abdullah, our Baghdad Bureau coordinator, interviewed a few Iraqis from different neighborhoods to gauge their opinion of the results of the Surge.]
One of the main changes in Iraq during the last six months is the United States ‘Surge’ in Baghdad. The security plan was supposed to make a better Iraq and a better future, and I don’t know why, but for some reason there was no better Iraq or better future. This is not just my opinion, it is according to the people I interviewed from different places in Baghdad by phone after six months of the surge, and they did not see any improvements in Iraq’s condition, but they saw something else and here is some of the things they saw until now…
Abu Ahmed, 56 years old, is married with fours kids and he lives in Sadr city in Baghdad:
“I think that the surge was not a good thing to be done in Baghdad. So many raids happened in my neighborhood, and nothing changed. I think that what should have been done by the Iraq government, along with the help of the US forces, is disarming all of the militias based in Baghdad, to maintain the security there. Not only raiding houses at nighttime, and those houses of Iraqi civilians, not of insurgents. Like for example, a US raid happened near my house, and the US forces came along with the INGs[Iraqi National Guard soldiers] and they raided the house of a man I’ve known for a long time, and he had only daughters and no boys at all, but they entered his house after midnight and they scared the women in there and broke the doors and nothing was found there! And after they were done with that they just moved on and said ‘We are sorry,’ and I don’t know what is the point of being sorry after they scared the women and broke their doors and made them face the wall for four hours, so what kind of Surge is that? Is it for helping Iraqis or is it for terrorizing Iraqis? And what else, lots of bombings are happening by US missiles in some neighborhoods, but they say that they were targeting some members in the Mahdi army? I don’t know what to say because I’ve run out of words for now, and I will leave the answer to Mr. Bush because I am sure that he knows the answer very well.”
And I had another interview with a different man from Baghdad, but he lives on the other side of Baghdad, in the Abu Ghraib neighborhood, which is considered a Sunni neighborhood and an extremist one. I am sorry to use that word extremist, but it’s good to show some of these people’s opinion also.
Sa’eed Muhammad Al-Janabi, he is 49 years old and married:
“For me I think any attempt to solve the situation in Iraq is something good, if it was the Surge, or an operation, or anything else, and for me I will do anything to help with fixing Iraq. But what the US forces did during the Surge it was not something to help Iraq, the only things that happened since its beginning are the deaths of more Iraqis, and more of them detained. And for no reason! They have to stay in American prisons, like Abu Ghraib, and some other detention centers in the south of Iraq, and they keep them there, even if they have done nothing, for like six months or more. I think keeping people in there for a long time, even if they did nothing, is not something that helps Iraq. Like for example I have a brother who is detained by the US forces, and he is now in a American prison in the south of Iraq, and he was kept there over the last four months. Yet they keep telling him that there are no charges against him and they will let him go soon! So I don’t what kind of surge is that?”
Something to be mentioned is that one of our correspondents, his name is Husam, has been kept in Bucca camp, in the south of Iraq, for more than four months and also with no charges. I am wondering when the US military will let him go too, so I hope that they will release him soon as they are constantly saying they will. Husam was detained after a raid took place in Adhamya, and he was at one of his friends’ houses, the US forces detained two of his friends along with him, his two friends have been released but he is still there.
I recorded one more interview with an Iraqi citizen, Amar Al-Zubaidi who is 36 years old and married. He lives in Al-Salaam district, which is controlled by the Mahdi army:
“The things I saw after the Surge is two US raids in my neighborhood, the US forces came into one of the apartments and they made everybody put their faces to the wall and told them not to move, but thank god, they didn’t take anybody or arrest anybody, but the Surge changed nothing. For example, there is a guy I know who used to work for ABC News as a cameraman, or a correspondent, his name is Alaa. He was kidnapped by the Mahdi army and found dead on the very next day, and sometimes I used to watch them from the window. Where they used to put their fake checkpoints on the street in front of my apartment and kidnap people. But nobody is doing anything about it, so where is that Surge for cleaning all the militias? Or is it just all TV talk and nothing is really happening on the ground?”
That was what some of the people in Iraq think about the Surge; I wonder how the Americans in the US are thinking about it?