I’ve been lying in bed feverish for two days now, listening to the radio. Strange the distorted view of things that even BBC news gives you – I was under the impression that Iraq was… well, it was kind of on its way to “getting better” – some troublesome looting and rioting, teething troubles while the installation of the new regime begins. But this piece from the Guardian makes it clear that, if anything, the situation there is worse than at any time during the last few weeks (perhaps this is why it’s hard to get the truth):
Forty-eight hours after Baghdad was liberated – as President George Bush would call it – by American forces, the city yesterday was in the throes of chaos. Men with Kalashnikovs dragged drivers from their cars at gunpoint, babies were killed by cluster bombs, and hospitals that had carried on right through the bombing were transformed into visions of hell.
Floors were coated with stale blood, and wards stank of gangrene. The wounded lay on soiled sheets in hospital lobbies, screaming with pain, or begging for tranquillizers. Orderlies in blue surgical gowns shouldered Kalashnikovs to guard against marauders. Ambulance drivers staged counter-raids on looters to reclaim captured medicines and surgical supplies.
Amid such scenes of anarchy, it was not always clear who was responsible: US soldiers, unnerved by a spate of suicide bombings, who continued yesterday to open fire on civilian cars; the pockets of resistance by the die-hard supporters of the regime; the scores of armed Iraqis rampaging through Baghdad; or the unexploded ordnance strewn about the city. But Iraqis had a ready culprit: they blame America for toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein before it was prepared to deliver order to Baghdad.
"It’s my country, and I hate Saddam," he said. "But why are they allowing robbing, why are they allowing people to set fire to buildings? Saddam was right to put those kinds of people in prison.
"I don’t like Saddam, I hate him; but when I see American soldiers I want to spit on them."
Rawand’s father, Mohammed Suleiman, was inconsolable. "I am going to kill America – not today, after 10 years," he swore.
Another doctor stepped out of the crowded ward, grabbing a cigarette from a passing ambulance driver.
"Where is freedom in Iraq?” he said. “Where?"
<sarcasm>Thank you, Mr Bush and Mr Blair, for making the world safer from terrorism.</sarcasm>
(BTW, The reason for my fever is that I’ve got gangrene too… well, that’s what it looks like. An exploded blister on my toe’s got infected, the infection’s spread to my glands, and I feel like a piece of shit. Much better than yesterday though, and the antibiotics are kicking in. Just glad I’m not in a hospital in Iraq. And glad I set up this WiFi network last week, so I can surf from my bed… though I wish typing were a little easier)