The Happy Arab News Service

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Square Tables

Mar. 21, 2007


The Associated Press

Police said Wednesday that children were used in a weekend car bombing in which the driver gained permission to park in a busy shopping area after he pointed out that he was leaving his children in the back seat.

The account appeared to confirm one given Tuesday by a US general. He said children were used in a Sunday bombing in northern Baghdad and labeled it a brutal new tactic put to use by insurgents to battle a five-week-old security crackdown in the capital.

Maj. Gen. Michael Barbero, deputy director for regional operations on the Joint Staff, said the vehicle used in the attack was waved through a U.S. military checkpoint because two children were visible in the back seat. He said it was the first reported use of children in a car bombing in Baghdad.

. . .

Two policemen, speaking on condition of anonymity because of security concerns, said the general was referring to a car bomb Sunday that killed eight Iraqis and wounded 28 others in the predominantly Shiite district of Shaab. The attack targeted people cooking food at open-air grills in the street as part of a Shiite Muslim holiday commemorating the anniversary of the Prophet Muhammad's death.

The reports could not be independently confirmed and key details were missing from the police accounts, such as the ages and genders of the children, whether they were among the victims, and what happened to their bodies (!!! I am just wondering if the reporter is an idiot or what. NB).

A senior official in the Shaab police department said Wednesday that an investigation was opened after the owner of a shop in the market district said he and other residents initially told a man he could not park his car on the street but relented after seeing the children in the back seat.

The shop's owner, Hussein Abbas, said he witnessed the attack.

"I saw two kids in the car before it exploded," he said. "I didn't believe it myself, but after a while the reality sunk in when I heard some people also saying there were kids inside the car."

Another police officer also said witnesses had reported seeing two children inside the car before it exploded. He said three other cases had been registered since last year in which women and children were used in parked car bombings, although they reportedly got out of the cars before those explosions.

. . .

Insurgent tactics have evolved since the war started four years ago and youths often have been among their victims, but the use of children as decoys would signal a new level of ruthlessness in the fight for control of the capital.

In the deadliest cases, a suicide car bomber sped up to American soldiers distributing candy to children July 2005 and detonated his explosives, killing up to 27 people, including a dozen children and a US soldier.

That occurred about nine months after 35 Iraqi children were killed in a string of bombs that exploded as American troops were handing out candy at a government-sponsored celebration to inaugurate a sewage plant in west Baghdad.

US troops also have said Sunni insurgents send children to check US defenses or warn of approaching patrols, and that Shiite militias encourage children to hurl stones and gasoline bombs at US convoys, hoping to lure American troops into ambushes or provoke them into shooting back.


Some of the patterns of use (abuse? NB) of children by both Sunni insurgents and Shia militiamen are strikingly reminiscent of the Palestinian Intifada which makes one start wondering to what degree the Intifada was indeed a unique event created by the unique circumstances of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. A short examination of a few well known conflicts can easily prove that, contrary to what some Israeli think, the basic patterns of the Palestinian Intifada are common to most conflicts going on in the Arab/Muslim world.

Specifically, suicide bombings have become a weapon of choice of the fundamentalists from Pakistan to Morocco. Another thing to mention is that these patterns are characteristic not only of the conflicts with Western involvement but they are a regular feature of Sunni Shia sectarian wars and even purely Sunni vs Sunni conflicts.

In the same way beheadings and throat slitting were widespread, for example, during the civil war in Algeria and are widely practiced by Muslim insurgents as far away as Thailand and Philippines. I have no idea what this messing with human head is supposed to mean but it has become a hallmark of Sunni insurgencies across the region.

One of the well known Arab bloggers, The Big Pharaoh, has treated this subject repeatedly in his posts, deploring the lack of interest on the part of the Arab/Muslim world to the issue of the intra Muslim violence which by now kills dozens and hundreds times more Muslims than Israelis and Americans together. Until he has finally freaked out and wrote:

The deafening silence of the Arab/Muslim world towards the mass slaughters in Iraq indicate one thing: this region will stay in the abyss of darkness, ignorance, and backwardness for a very long time until someone really rises up, takes it by the neck, and forces it to look in a mirror and see the ugly reflection.


While the combined number of victims of the Israeli Palestinian conflict over the last 10 years on both sides hardly reaches 6,000 the same amount of people can die in a few months in Iraq, where the Sunni insurgents have turned suicide truck bomb attacks into an art in its own sense. Yet, as the Pharaoh claimed, the Arab/Muslim public opinion and mass media are focused exclusively on the Israeli Palestinian conflict and on the US presence in Iraq.

For Israelis this unwillingness of the Arab/Muslim world to tackle the problem of the violence coming from its own ranks towards its own people means the following: Whatever some people may think about the value of exchanging niceties (and sometimes even not niceties NB) between Israelis and Arabs/Muslims on some peace blogs, the only thing of real value and interest for Israelis is the internal Arab/Muslim debate around this issue. Though the language barrier makes it impossible for most Israelis to follow this debate, judging by The Big Pharaoh, and to a lesser degree Sandmonkey, such a debate is almost non existent. Peace roundtables may be all the rage in some circles. Yet, it's unreasonable to expect that a culture that cannot even verbally address the intense violence of its own people killing dozens of thousands, can be helpful when it comes to resolving its conflict with another culture.

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