Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Not good...

Juan Cole, aka Professor Smoothe and Debonair, has a story today that will not get a lot of coverage in American media, but is the type of thing you can imagine will cause BIG problems in Iraq. Be nice if our media could wake up, but they like showing pictures of Vatican Smokestacks for 24 consecutive hours, imagine how an actual living Pope will distract them...

Wolf Blitzer: "Ooh Shiny"

...any way, this isn't good:

A tearful member of the Iraqi parliament, Fattah al-Shaikh, stood up before other MPs and told the story of how he was attacked and detained by US troops when he attempted to enter the Green Zone, the heavily fortified area near downtown Baghdad where parliament is held and the US embassy is situated. Wire services report that he said, '“I don’t speak English and so I said to the Iraqi translator with them, ‘Tell them that I am a member of parliament’, and he replied, ‘To hell with you, we are Americans.'" '

Al-Hayat reported that al-Shaikh, a member of the Muqtada al-Sadr bloc, said the US troops put their boots on his neck and handcuffed him. The Iraqi parliament was thrown into an uproar by the account, and demanded a US apology from the highest levels of government. Others demanded that the site of parliament meetings be changed. (This is not the first complaint by a parliamentarian of being manhandled).

Parliament speaker Hajim al-Hasani condemned the assault, saying that members of parliament are symbols of national honor and must be respected.

Parliament adjourned on hearing the news.

The incident will seem minor to most Americans and few will see this Reuters photograph reprinted from al-Hayat (which is not the one featured at the Reuters story on the incident on the Web). But such an incident is a serious affront to national honor, and Iraqi male politicians don't often weep.

It should be remembered that someday not so far from now, the US will come to the Iraqi parliament for a status of forces agreement (SOFA), and Fattah al-Shaikh and his friend will vote on it.

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