Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Iraqis Have A Word: "Sahel"

Excerpts from:
Iraq’s Curse: A Thirst for Final, Crushing Victory
By Edward Wong, NYT, June 03, 2007

PERHAPS no fact is more revealing about Iraq’s history than this: The Iraqis have a word that means to utterly defeat and humiliate someone by dragging his corpse through the streets.
Listen to Iraqis engaged in the fight, and you realize they are far from exhausted by the war. Many say this is only the beginning.
It was at the site of that ancient bloodletting, Karbala, that I twice witnessed the intense Shiite ache for righteousness and triumph. In early 2004, thousands of young fighters in the Mahdi Army, the militia of the nationalist Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, fought and died in a fevered uprising against the Americans. Last March, the same zealotry showed in a different way, as millions of Shiite pilgrims marched to Karbala's shrines to commemorate the death of Hussein. They went despite relentless attacks by Sunni Arab suicide bombers. To them, it was all part of the unending war.

"No country in the world is fighting such terrorism," said Adel Abdul Mehdi, an Iraqi vice president and leader in the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, a powerful Shiite party, on the day he made his pilgrimage. "Every time we give more martyrs, we are more determined. This is a big battle, there is no such battle in the world."

The Shiites have waited centuries for their moment on the throne, and the war is something they are willing to tolerate as the price for taking power, said the Iraqi leader who had invited me to dinner in the Green Zone. "The Shia say this is not exceptional for them, this is normal," he said.

The belief of the Shiites that they must consolidate power through force of arms is tethered to ever-present suspicions of an impending betrayal by the Americans. Though the Americans have helped institute the representative system of government that the Shiites now dominate, they have failed to eliminate memories of how the first President Bush allowed Saddam Hussein to slaughter rebelling Shiites in 1991. Shiite leaders are all too aware, as well, of America's hostility toward Iran, the seat of Shiite power, and of its close alliances with Sunni Arab nations, especially Saudi Arabia.
"No country in the world is fighting such terrorism," - Mehdi is not talking here about what Bush would refer to as terrorists.

He is talking about Americans and Sunnis.