By Geoffrey Cook, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)
San Francisco–Anthony Shahid was a non-embedded journalist observing Iraqâ€™s war. He has recently returned from Baghdad. He received no official briefings, whether from American or Iraqi politicians, while there.
Shahid is an Arab-American; thus, with his fluent Arabic he was able to meld into the dangerously divided Mesopotamia, and was able to report on the sufferings of the â€œcommon people.â€ He emphasized that the North American ideals of â€œfreedomâ€ clashed with the values of traditional Arab justice.
Tony Shahid was in San Francisco to promote his new book on how the average person was weathering the tragic dislocation and tragedies we brought upon them piecing together stories of the grassroots Iraqis and their suffering.
Shahid, who resides in Beirut, like the great English reporter Robert Fisk, exposes a vibrant and resilient Baghdad. Saddamâ€™s downfall has uncovered either opportunities for (bourgeois) democracy or more bloodshed. (I am afraid with Husseinâ€™s bungled execution, the latter is most likely.) He describes his talents as a â€œ…better writer than a lecturer.â€
After Saddamâ€™s demise, tribal law has become paramount. Unfortunately, â€œJournalism encourages provocation.â€ The widespread rurality within the Land between Two Rivers has turned the â€œ…land…upside down.â€ We went from liberators to occupiers! â€œThe American…invasion has nothing to do with democracy…It is…a circus!â€ Truthfully, Saddam Hussein was one of the worst dictators of our generation, but we have failed to make things any better.
Since the U.S. controls Iraqâ€™s destiny, â€œThis is a civil war now!â€ This (Colonial) confrontation has now lasted longer than the Second World War. Ideology in the Middle East has disappeared. The anger is deep in the United States, also, for the lies of the Bush Administration have not only killed and maimed our own, but has put us and our rulers on the level of the Baathist Party! We shall not know the full consequences of our actions for several years.
It is true that Husseinâ€™s militias have been completely purged, but, at the same time, he says, â€œ…the best and brightest are leaving their fatherlandâ€ to fend for itself!