Tuesday, May 1, 2007
ROVING IN THE RED ZONE
ATol's "Roving Eye", Pepe Escobar, is back in Iraq and in the Red Zone - that is, outside "Fortress USA", the Green Zone. This is the first of his unembedded, non-Kevlar-protected, bodyguardless reports.
By Pepe Escobar
".......An extremely high percentage of exiles are businessmen, technocrats, intellectuals, scientists - all fleeing fundamentalist or confessional carnage, whether it comes from militias, death squads, mafias, killers disguised as policemen, Saddamists or Salafi-jihadists. The absence of skilled workers and professionals is staggering. A well-known secular intellectual, whose identity must be be protected, has been insistently courted by the Maliki government: they have offered anything he wanted, even a ministry. He declined. The Sunni Arab resistance also offered him anything he wanted. He also declined. No one knows how much longer he can maintain his independence.
Most of the 5 million or so poor souls who have remained in Baghdad are the disenfranchised, the unemployed, the miserable, the wretched, like scores of old, frail men in their battered gallabie and keffiah begging in the middle of the hellish traffic, among the decomposing cars, the donkeys, the slaughtered sheep by the curbside and the endless machine gun toting convoys of Iraqi police ("They are worse than the Americans").
The UN has done next to nothing to help these millions of exiled Iraqis - not to mention the wealthy Arab emirates, or the Wahhabi millionaires in Saudi Arabia. After the total implosion of social life, Iraq has reverted to pre-modernity. Baghdad, once the pride of Islam, has reverted to the status of the saddest, most desperate of global capitals. No wonder the motto - even from secular, well-educated Shi'ites - is ubiquitous: "Iraq is finished."
So no one can say that half a trillion dollars - so far - courtesy of US taxpayers, has not served a clear "creative destruction" purpose. And this is only the hors d'oeuvres. The Baghdad gulag is yet to reach full fruition. Iraq will be finished one mini-Green Zone at a time."