From a medic in Iraq.
Following the article I sent about Bush’s national address and troop
increase, I thought it was a good idea to let you all know what the
perspective is over here. I’m tired of hearing the media’s skewed
version, the politicians squabbling over what they read in a report, and
the average ill-informed American ranting about things he knows NOTHING
I’ve been over here a couple of months now, and I’ve learned more about
this country than a year’s worth of watching CNN. I’ve sat in mission
briefs with Colonels, talked with village elders, had tea with Shieks,
played with the kids. And I agree with the President. We need more
troops and we need to take greater action.
There are 3 major factions here. The Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds. The
Shiites are in the majority, but Saddam was a Sunni, so he kept the
Shiites in check. Everyone hates the Kurds, who are Christian and in the
vast minority. The Kurds received the brunt of Saddam’s murderous
tyranny. Now that Saddam is gone, the Shiites have taken control of
Baghdad. The largely peaceful Sunnis are now the victims of radical
Shiite terrorism. So the young Sunni men, who can no longer go to work
and support their families, do what all young men would do. They join
the Sunni militia and battle the Shiites. And thus the country sits on
the brink of civil war.
But this war is between them. They largely do not concern themselves
with the U.S. troops. The insurgents who battle the Coalition Forces are
from outside the country. And the biggest problem down here isn’t the
insurgents. Its the politicians. The local politicians. Even though the
country is controlled by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, downtown
Baghdad is controlled by radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The
Shiites follow al-Sadr and thus the Prime Minister does what al-Sadr
says. Think of it as if a warlord controlled New York and blackmailed
the President into diplomatic immunity.
When 1st Cav (mainly 2/5 Cav) came here in 2004, they took downtown
Baghdad (known as Sadr City) by force. It cost many lives, but after a
year, we held an iron grip on the largest insurgent breeding ground in
Iraq. The insurgents were afraid of the Horse People, and rightfully so.
But when 1st Cav left, al-Sadr influenced the Prime Minister to kick out
the Coalition forces from that area of Baghdad. He said the Iraqi
military forces could hold the city. But all that happened was al-Sadr
regained control of his cty, and it is now a heavily guarded fortress. A
place where insurgents and terrorists can train and stockpile arms. And
we cannot go back in becuase the Prime Minister won’t let us. Our hands
So where does al-Sadr get his backing? From Iran and Syria. Iran
supplies him with money and Syria supplies the terrorists. The
insurgents that battle the Coalition Forces are from Syria, Somalia and
dozens of other places outside of Iraq. Iraq is literally a terrorist
breeding ground. They have terrorist and sniper schools here. Why not?
They train by teaching them to attack the military forces here. And they
have an endless supply of these training tools. They have
factoriessitrep in Sadr City to build bombs. Both Iran and Syria have
openly proclaimed their number one goal in life is to destroy the great
Western Devil and the little Western Devil (America and Britain). Iran
wants to control Iraq to further this purpose. Al-Sadr will get to "run"
the country and live like a king, but in reality Iran will pull the
puppet strings. Iran will have access to thousands of radical Shiites
who will do whatever al-Sadr tells them to. And Iraq will be used as a
breeding ground for terrorism. Terrorism that will be targeted directly
at America and Britain. The Iraq Study Group advised we should let Iran
and Syria help with rebuilding? Bravo to President Bush for striking
that idea down and vowing to keep those two countries out of Iraq.
So how do the Iraqi people feel about everything? Of course they don’t
want the Americans here. But they would far rather have us here than the
Iranians. My platoon visited an average Sunni village on a patrol a few
days ago. Their only source of income was to farm, as they could not go
to the city to work for fear of violence. Many of the young men had
already run off to join the militia for no other reason than to feed
their families. They had no school or hospital near them and the
community was dying. The village elder’s granddaughter was very sick and
I was able to treat her. Afterwards he invited me and my Platoon Leader
to sit in his house and have tea with him, and we talked about the
The people want peace. The Shiites kill the Sunnis because al-Sadr
tells them to do so. The Sunnis fight back because they have no choice.
They are glad Saddam is dead (Sunni or not), but do not want to replace
him with another dictator in a politician’s clothes (which is what
al-Sadr will become). And they especially don’t want Iran in charge.
Many innocent Iraqis will die if this happens. These are the words that
came out of the elder’s mouth:
"We do not want America here, and America does not want to be here. But
you cannot leave because the militias controll the country. America must
use the might of its giant army and sweep through, root out and destroy
the militias. Then Iraq can be free and you can leave."
What appears to have happened within our diplomatic community, is that
Prime Minister finally realizes that his days are numbered. If al-Sadr
remains, he will be kicked to the curb. So hopefully he is about to
allow us to reenter Sadr City, root out and destroy the enemy. A
dramatic troop increase will allow us to do this. And the Horse People
are back and ready to finish what they started over 2 years ago.
If leave now, it will be a failure for democracy. Iran will contoll
Iraq and the end result will be more terrorist attacks on America. The
American people don’t want soldiers dying over here, but its better than
American civilians dying over there. Do NOT forget 9/11. They will do it
again. The moment we loosen our grip on the noose, they will do it
again. And the only way to root out the evil here is to stop beating
around the bush, increase troops and destroy the insurgents once and for
all. The Iraqi government cannot do this on their own. The Iraqi
security forces are inadequate for this task. We are the only ones who
can stop al-Sadr.