It never fails to get my adrenaline flowing when
my hotel rumbles from a car bomb detonating in central Baghdad.
Last night around 7 p.m. the explosion occurred at a hotel compound which houses
foreign contractors over near Firdos Square.
Shortly thereafter, the "Green Zone" took a sustained mortar attack
that went on long enough for them to hit the blaring sirens that warn the inhabitants
to take cover, long after the mortar rounds had stopped falling.
Iraq's borders with Syria and Jordan remain closed, according to U.S.-appointed
prime minister Allawi, since declaring Iraq in a state of "national emergency."
Due to Baghdad International Airport being closed for the same reason, a friend
managed to drive across the "closed" border of Jordan a few days ago
because he'd grown weary of waiting for the airport to reopen.
Prior to leaving Amman he checked with the car hire kiosks, who told him they
had been running cars to and from Iraq nonstop, despite the "closed"
At the Jordanian border there were, according to my friend, at least 100 cars
waiting to cross the border into Iraq. An Iraqi "guard" in civilian
clothing told them, while laughing, "The border is closed, but I will open
it for you, despite what Allawi says."
At the customs clearance building, although they were driving in a GMC with
10 large suitcases lashed to the top of it, a quick bribe of $3 to the official
allowed them to be waved through without a single door of their truck being
There were no U.S. soldiers, nor any Iraqi National Guard. His passport was
stamped without even being looked at, and he left within minutes.
All of the other cars and trucks traveling into Iraq near him made it across
the border as well. Again, as he said, "There were easily over 100."
There is so much fighting and chaos around Iraq now that it is simply impossible
to report everything, so I'll just cover a few highlights.
Four oil wells in northern Iraq have been destroyed by the resistance, adding
to the heinous fuel shortage that has wracked the country for weeks now.
Petrol lines in Baghdad continue to stretch for miles in places, making people
angry and frustrated. Driving around the city is more and more difficult, as
the petrol lines squeeze two- and three-lane roads down to a single lane, snarling
traffic and raising tempers.
There are sporadic attacks continuing throughout the capital city day and night,
as the Iraqi resistance continue to fight against the occupiers of their country.
Armed men continue to roam freely about the streets of Mosul and Ramadi in
defiance of the U.S. military, Iraqi National Guard (ING) and Iraqi police (IP).
A U.S. convoy was attacked north of Ramadi and a Humvee was exploded; no word
yet from the military on casualties.
In Baquba, about 40 miles northeast of Baghdad, another police station was
attacked, five police vehicles torched along with several Iraqi National Guard
trucks, and the U.S. base in the city was mortared. My friend in the area told
me on the phone, "There were so many bullets, Mr. Dahr, I hid in my shop
and God protected me, but it is crazy here. I want to come to Baghdad to see
you, but there is no petrol in Baquba."
The horrendous humanitarian disaster of Fallujah drags on, as the U.S. military
continues to refuse the entry of an Iraqi Red Crescent (IRC) convoy of relief
supplies. The Red Crescent has appealed to the UN to intervene, but no such
luck, nor does the military relent.
IPs, who are under U.S. control, have looted Fallujah General Hospital.
The military stopped the Red Crescent at the gates of the city and is not allowing
them in. They allowed some bodies to be buried, but others are being eaten by
dogs and cats in the streets, as reported by refugees just out of the city,
as well as residents still trapped there.
The military said it saw no need for the IRC to deliver aid to people inside
Fallujah because it did not think any civilians were still inside the city.
Contradicting this claim, along with virtually every aid worker, refugee, and
resident of Fallujah, was U.S. Marine Col. Mike Shupp, who said, "There
is no need to bring [Red Crescent] supplies in because we have supplies of our
own for the people."
IRC spokeswoman Firdu al-Ubadi added, "We know of at least 157 families
inside Fallujah who need our help."
The media repression by the military around Fallujah continues to run thick,
as a journalist for the al-Arabiya network who attempted to get inside Fallujah
was detained by the military. Meanwhile, al-Jazeera continues to run announcements
over their satellite station, apologizing to its viewers for not having better
coverage in Iraq due to their office being closed indefinitely several months
ago by the U.S.-backed interim government.
Nevertheless, they continue to get the word out. They report today that Asma
Khamis al-Muhannadi, a doctor who witnessed the U.S. and Iraqi National Guard
raid the general hospital, said, "We were tied up and beaten despite being
unarmed and having only our medical instruments."
She said the hospital was targeted by bombs and rockets during the initial
siege of Fallujah, and troops dragged patients from their beds and pushed them
against the wall.
Al-Muhannadi went on to say that all of them were put under intense inspection
and, "Two female doctors were forced to totally undress."
She continued on, "I was with a woman in labor," she said. "The
umbilical cord had not yet been cut. At that time, a U.S. soldier shouted at
one of the [Iraqi] National Guards to arrest me and tie my hands while I was
helping the mother to deliver. I will never forget this incident in my life."
Like I said, these are just some highlights.