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文章标题: Today's story for LuDi (297 reads)      时间: 2003-4-02 周三, 下午9:30

作者:Anonymous罕见奇谈 发贴, 来自 http://www.hjclub.org

Voices In Baghdad

From Strife-Torn South, Reports of Fear, Isolation

By Anthony Shadid

Washington Post Foreign Service

Wednesday, April 2, 2003; Page A01

BAGHDAD, April 1 -- At the Karkh bus station today, near the Ibn Buniyya Mosque, drivers loaded their ramshackle green buses with pilgrims, soldiers and families. The road is open, the drivers said, but two weeks into the war, travelers describe the cities of southern Iraq as besieged and beleaguered.

In conversations with bus drivers, families traveling to and from Baghdad and relatives who have stayed in contact by telephone, stories are recounted of isolated and fearful residents, dependent on dwindling government rations, terrified by relentless U.S. air assaults. In more candid moments, they complain of being trapped in the middle -- between a U.S. attack they fear will lead to an occupation and a brutal, unpopular government flashing an iron fist in the traditionally restive south.

Without exception, they insisted that the ruling Baath Party remains in unyielding control -- "at least 90 percent," in the words of one -- with thousands of cadres deployed with green uniforms and Kalashnikovs block by block, intersection by intersection to prevent the fall of cities such as Basra, Nasiriyah, Hilla and the sacred Shiite Muslim town of Karbala.

"If you take your shoe off and throw it outside, it will land on one of the Baath Party guys," one relative told a traveler here.

The conversations shed light on the loyalty of Shiites in southern Iraq to President Saddam Hussein. They provided insights, too, into the fragility of their fealty. Residents say the Baath Party's numbers in the southern cities burgeoned in the 1990s -- the $15 a month members received was one of the few sources of income in the miserably poor region. Their ranks have, in part, allowed the government to saturate the streets with an almost blanket control that has yet to show any fissures. For how long remains a question.

"They didn't know they would have to fight a war," one relative said.

For now, residents say, the government retains control despite its deep unpopularity. In the past two weeks, the government has played on the deep resentment the U.S. bombing has provoked among residents, the visceral suspicion many appear to have of U.S. intentions and anger over the suffering they endured after they rose up in 1991, only to be abandoned, in their view, by the United States.

Many of the firsthand accounts come from Karbala, a 90-minute trip from Baghdad. Since fighting started near Karbala, two drivers said, the intelligence headquarters was destroyed and shattered glass litters the streets in the heart of the city, one of Shiite Islam's most sacred sites. The intelligence office was less than a mile from the tomb of Hussein, the grandson of the prophet Muhammad whose life and martyrdom represent a central narrative of Shiite history.

Few tanks or other heavy weapons are stationed inside Karbala, but the drivers said that the Baath Party has divided the city into a grid. One of its offices sits 500 yards from the shrine, and militiamen have taken up residence inside Hussein's tomb.

"In every location, at every point, the party is there," said Ali Mijbil, who visited his family in Karbala over the weekend.

Last week, the charred carcasses of six cars sat in the streets, and fighting on the outskirts has forced hundreds of farmers and villagers to seek refuge in downtown Karbala, with its cheap and plentiful hotels for visiting pilgrims, the drivers said. By all accounts, the bombing has remained intense, engendering growing resentment among civilians as the siege persists. The drivers were interviewed in the presence of a government minder.

"Everybody is in his home," said Mohsin Udai, 33, a driver who returned from Karbala this morning. "Some families felt safe because they thought they would hit only the Baath Party offices, but they were close, and they got hurt."

The roads to Karbala and Najaf, plied by pilgrims, are among the most traveled in Iraq. Drivers said Republican Guard soldiers -- with distinctive red triangle badges on their uniforms -- were manning at least three checkpoints to Karbala. The road to Najaf has been closed, as the presence of U.S. troops and some of the war's most intense fighting made it too precarious for civilian traffic. The U.S. Army entered Najaf today after an intense battle with Iraqi fighters there.

One family tragedy was recounted today in a room lit dimly by a lantern during one of Baghdad's frequent electricity outages. Nijim Abdel-Ridda described how, last week, the family of Aida Afus ignored warnings and set out to bury her body in one of the vast cemeteries that gird Najaf -- by tradition, an act that brings blessings. They loaded her wooden coffin Thursday on top of a gray minibus and, with five relatives and a driver, set off at 6 a.m.

Two hours later, near the town of Kifl, he said, a U.S. missile struck their car. Two passengers were killed instantly. Under a hail of gunfire, the four others, some bleeding profusely from shrapnel wounds, fled the scene.

One of Afus's sons, 58-year-old Ali Abdel-Ridda, ran north along back roads for two hours, according to Nijim, his brother. Ali had shrapnel in his knee, left arm and thigh, and left a trail of blood. Before he collapsed, he stumbled upon farmers tilling verdant fields along the Euphrates River. They took him to a hospital in Hilla, where he received first aid. He then got a shared taxi to Baghdad, returning at 5 p.m. to his home in Rahmaniya, a poor Shiite neighborhood, Nijim recalled.

The other survivors from the car gradually made their way back. The driver, Habib Ali, returned soon after Ali Abdel-Ridda. Raysan Saghir made it back by 10 p.m. Muhannad Hadi, the last survivor, showed up in Rahmaniya three days later. They said they didn't know what happened to the bodies of the two other relatives or their mother's coffin.

"They want to terrify the people," said Nijim, referring to U.S. military forces. "It's inhuman, and any person who has no humanity becomes brutal and savage."

Drivers and people with relatives in cities such as Basra, Nasiriyah and Hilla spoke of deserted streets and secluded families, their isolation growing with the bombing of telephone exchanges that severed phone lines. Iraqi television no longer broadcasts outside the capital, but some families still receive a signal transmitted by satellite. Others try to glean news from Arabic-language broadcasts of the BBC and Radio Monte Carlo.

In the southern city of Nasiriyah, the family of Fawzi Malek lugged his body a few feet outside their door, dug up the flowers in their garden and thrust his corpse, draped in a white robe called a dishdasha, into a hasty grave.

A veteran of two Iraqi wars, the 50-year-old Malek had ignored the warnings of his family huddled on the ground floor of their house. But when the bombing started, he hurried into a bathroom, away from fragile windows. Within minutes, he was struck by a heart attack. His son Qusai, 25, called an ambulance, but it took two hours to arrive, overwhelmed with casualties elsewhere and delayed by Baath Party checkpoints. It was at least an hour too late.

The family of 30 considered their options: take him to the cemetery 150 yards away, exposing themselves to U.S. bombing and the presence, they believed, of American snipers. Or put him to rest next to their garage. They chose the latter.

"Every second they were outside, they thought they were going to die," said Mustafa Kamel, his 33-year-old nephew, who recounted the story today from his goldsmith shop in Baghdad. "They are trapped and they are surrounded."

The family of Fawzi Malek insisted that American snipers had crossed the Euphrates last week to prey on residents -- a belief so firmly held that it had reordered their lives. Kamel, who last spoke to them on Friday, said women, wearing the black chadors of traditional Shiite women in the south, would not venture outdoors. They believed they would be mistaken for the black-clad militiamen of Saddam's Fedayeen, the fighters who have harried U.S. and British soldiers.

His family, Kamel said, is left with their government rations -- lentils, flour, sugar, powdered milk and beans. They have an added supply of potatoes, a favorite staple given their long shelf life, but fear their vats of water are running low. As if taunting them, the Euphrates is less than 25 yards from their window, a trip that Kamel said they consider too risky.

"It's a ghost town," he said. "They only hear the bombing."

As in Karbala and other cities, the only exception is government militiamen, whose ranks have swelled since the war's onset.

Adel Said, another goldsmith whose family lives in Basra, said his brother-in-law, Salim Nazzal, was working as an electrician at a government office. With the siege, it closed, and as a state employee, he was drafted into the party militia. He donned a green uniform, was given a rifle and was posted as a guard at night near his old office.

"They don't work, they don't buy, they don't sell. They just sit," he said.

?2003 The Washington Post Company

作者:Anonymous罕见奇谈 发贴, 来自 http://www.hjclub.org
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