The document is dated June '06 and the US ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, has put his name to it. I'd recommend reading it for a rare opportunity to see what the US officials on the ground in Iraq actually say about the current situation. Here are a few lowlights.
1. (SBU) Beginning in March. and picking up in mid-May, Iraqi staff in the Public Affairs Section have complained that Islamist and/or militia Groups have been negatively affecting their daily routine. Harassment over proper dress and habits has been increasingly pervasive. They also report that power cuts and fuel prices have diminished their quality of life. Conditions vary by neighborhood, but even upscale neighborhoods such as Mansur have visibly deteriorated.On women's rights:
2. (SBU) The Public Affairs Press Office has 9 local Iraqi employees. Two of our three female employees report stepped up harassment beginning in mid-May. One, a Shiite who favors Western clothing, was advised by an unknown woman in her upscale Shiite/Christian Baghdad neighborhood to wear a veil and not to drive her own car. Indeed, she said, some groups are pushing women to cover even their face, a step not taken in Iran even at its most conservative.On Western clothing:
3. (SBU) Another, a Sunni, said that people in her middle-class neighborhood are harassing women and telling them to cover up and stop using cell phones (suspected channel to licentious relationships with men). She said that the taxi driver who brings her every day to the green zone checkpoint has told her he cannot let her ride unless she wears a headcover. A female in the PAS cultural section is now wearing a full abaya after receiving direct threats in May. She says her neighborhood, Mhamiya, is no longer permissive if she is not clad so modestly.
4. (SBU) These women say they cannot identify the groups that are pressuring them many times. the cautions come from other women, sometimes from men who they say could be Sunni or Shiite, but appear conservative. They also tell us that some ministries, notably the Sadrist controlled Ministry of Transportation, have been forcing fem1es to wear the hijab at work. Dress Code for All?
5. (SBU) Staff members have reported that it is now dangerous for men to wear shorts in public; they no longer allow their children to play outside tn shorts. People who wear jeans in public have come under attack from what staff members describe as Wahabis and Sadrists.And finally, on security and confidence in the new government:
21. (SBU) Our staff, report that security and services are being rerouted through local provider whose affiliations are vague. As noted above, those who are admonishing citizens on their dress are not known to the residents. Neighborhood power providers are not well known either, nor is it clear how they avoid robbery or targeting. Personal safety depends on good relations with the neighborhood governments, who barricade streets and ward off outsiders. The central government, our staff says, is not relevant; even local mukhtars have been displaced or co-opted by militias. People no longer trust most neighbors.It is grim indeed and should please no-one, whether they supported the war or opposed it.
What is important is that we in the West get a real understanding of the actual results of the policies of our governments. Without that understanding, which they seem desperate to deny us, they'll be free to continue to play fast and loose with the lives of people in faraway countries.
Presiding over the total collapse of a nation state is not a "tactical errror". It's a tragic catastrophe brought about by the ignorance, incompetance and stupidity of the Bush and Blair governments. If there were Western lives at stake (civilian, not cannon fodder), do you think they would still have behaved in such a recklessly cavilier way?
Tags: News, Politics, Iraq