Cliff Kindy Iraq Blog

Current entries are related to Cliff Kindy's fourth Iraq trip, beginning in October 2007. The blog archives contains letters from Cliff's third Iraq trip in 2004-5.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

#13: Safest City in Iraq

Received Feb. 9, 2005

Dear Friends, Family, and All Good People,

Yesterday I read a news article that said Fallujah is the safest city in Iraq. It went on to say that 8000 people had voted in the election, in this city of 300,000 people. This observation is a bit sobering. The assault on Fallujah was defended last November as a way to insure safe and free elections. In reality, the assault led to a massive decrease in voters and then, on a larger scale, the reason Sunni voters across Iraq boycotted the election entirely.

The refugees from Fallujah that we visited on Monday told us that homes are still being destroyed there. It can take them more than twelve hours at checkpoints getting into the city. Once in, there is little water, electricity, or ability to move around. Their shops and businesses have been destroyed. They reject a permanent return until the US soldiers leave their city.

When we returned from Kerbala, we found our main land phone and our refrigerator not working. The landlord replaced our frig in three days and the phone was operating again in four. We left Baghdad, before the Muslim Peacemaker Team training in Kerbala, when the water supply for this entire city of Baghdad was off. It was off for TEN DAYS! This is a city bigger than Chicago. It is still before noon here and we have had over six hours of electricity from the grid since midnight. That is an improvement!

Additionally, our email has been working well this past week. It is a dramatic change from the four days around the election in Kerbala when we had no access to working email lines. Our driver says that lines for gasoline are still three or four kilometers long.

A delegation is coming to Iraq for the first time since last April. It is good to have the interest from delegates in spite of the difficulties of logistics and security. The delegation will be in two locations and then share from the varied experiences to enable a broader understanding of the situation in Iraq.

Seventeen of the twenty-five Ministers of the interim government hold US passports, according to our landlord. Most of the past governing council and of the present interim government leaders were in other countries in the last decades. The top names on the main party candidate lists for the election are exiles who were outside the country. Those who lived here during the wars, the sanctions, and the last years of the invasion have often said to us that these returning people don't understand the situation in Iraq very completely.

The promise now from the US administration is that US soldiers will leave when Iraqis can care for their own security and when the insurgents are controlled. I think we have missed a step in the process.

The foreign insurgents (if the US foreign fighters are not included) are a small set of the much larger group of people who are the resistance to the US occupation. Imagine if Nigeria, Cuba, Canada, or North Korea had invaded and occupied the United States, but not at our request. As long as they stayed in the US the resistance would continue growing. It would not make sense for the Cubans or others to say, "When the fighting dies down we will leave." If leaders who had lived in North Korea or Canada were elected and said, "We will ask the troops to stay for some years yet," there might not be approval from across the population. The same principles hold true in Iraq.

Here in Iraq even most of the Shi'a population wants the US soldiers to be pulled out. It is time for Iraq to be for Iraq, not for outside countries and interests. The longer US troops stay in Iraq, the larger will grow the resistance.

Safety for Iraqis will not come by killing more US soldiers. Nor will it come by US soldiers killing more Iraqis. Fallujah might be the safest city in Iraq, but the way to bring safety to Iraqis (or to US soldiers) is not to level every city as the US did to Fallujah.

Building safety calls for changed ways of living, nurturing friendships, breaking down enmities, building homes and jobs, not destroying them. This is the way I want to work for safety.


Cliff Kindy


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