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They just don't get it. Honestly, can there be a more culturally insensitive and brazen lot than the U.S. and U.K. forces in Iraq? The recent massacre of six British troops and subsequent wounding of eight more (three in critical condition) in a small town northeast of Basra is testimony to how proud the Iraqi people are, how protection of their honor and belongings takes paramount priority. Please, Saddam is a moot point here.
While the U.K. government is busy issuing threats to the Iraqis of Basra and Ammarah, they had better reshuffle their communications with the Iraqi people. First off, this country does not belong to the British and the Americans. It never has, it never will. Consequently, coalition soldiers cannot merely kick their way into homes and begin to search for weapons (of mass destruction or otherwise), violating the sanctity of the house, the privileged privacy of the domain, and the sacred honors that have become cultural laws in Iraq.
Al Jazeera footage of U.S. soldiers frisking Iraqi women through the traditional abbaya covering have incensed Iraqis throughout the world and have pushed many inside Iraq to take arms against a sea of cultural mishaps. As more Americans and British sons and daughters die, the public must question the competence of the leaders who sent them there in the first place.
How difficult is it to teach a soldier the Arabic for "no" or "stop" or "go back"? Or to take an hour and review religious and cultural norms? It seems the number of Iraqi women and children who have been killed at the hands of coalition forces because soldiers could not even speak a few words of Arabic goes unnoticed in Western media. The message is clear -- Iraqis, we don't care! We are in your country to occupy you, we come and go as we please, and we care little for your pathetic honor rituals.
So, to cover up their embarrassing and fatal bungling in Iraq, the U.S. and U.K. administrations talk about Saddam and his mercenaries. This is most saddening. They still don't get it. You cannot impose your culture on another people, and definitely not on the 7000-year old culture of historical Iraq.
No, forget Saddam. Der Führer ist kaput, as the phrase goes. But something far more threatening, more serious, more deadly has been awakened in Iraq: the Lion of Babylon -- Iraqi pride.
Firas Al-Atraqchi, B.Sc (Physics), M.A. (Journalism and Communications), is a Canadian journalist with eleven years of experience covering Middle East issues, oil and gas markets, and the telecom industry. Firas Al-Atraqchi encourages your comments: [email protected] . Copyright Firas Al-Atraqchi 2003. For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .