Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Iraqi weddings not as joyous as Jenna Bush's

Dahlia Wasfi sent me this editorial from PSL. If this doesn't get your blood boiling, I don't know what will. General Mattis' comment defending the attack it ridiculous if you look at the numbers. Two dozen "military-age males" is what you would expect at a wedding party, and with 12 women and fourteen children killed, you might expect more. We have literally made being a military-age male at the wrong place and the wrong time a crime punishable by death. You want me to think we're there liberating still? General Mattis, let's not be naive.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

PSL Editorial

On May 10, President Bush gave his daughter Jenna's hand away in holy matrimony. The ceremony was held at sunset, in a tranquil section of his 1,600-acre Texas ranch. Before the night concluded, a 10-piece party band played a whole host of soul and funk classics for the Bush family and their closest friends to boogie down to. George W. called the evening "spectacular" and after a moment of reflection told reporters, "We're mighty blessed."

Almost four years earlier to the day, another wedding took place 7,500 miles away from Texas in Makr al-Deeb, close to the Iraq-Syria border. It ended quite differently.

After the nuptials, the wedding party was in full swing, with dinner just finished and the band playing traditional Arabic music. Suddenly, U.S. fighter jets roared overhead and U.S. vehicles started shining their high beams into the party. The worried hosts abruptly shut down the gathering. The men stayed inside the wedding tent, while women and children scattered to a nearby house.

Five hours later, shortly after 2 a.m., while most were sleeping, the tent came under air attack. The air assault was followed by volleys from ground troops who arrived in helicopters and armored personnel carriers. Panicked women and children fled outside, where they, too, were hit.

Iraqi eyewitnesses claimed that U.S. soldiers went through the wreckage at dawn and killed several of the wounded. At the end of the assault, 45 Iraqis lay dead, including 12 women and 14 children. Some reports claim that both the bride and groom were among the dead. The wedding singer was killed while sleeping. There were no reported U.S. casualties.

Mr. Mahdi Nawaf, a shepherd who attended the wedding, said his daughter and his grandchildren were killed. "Mothers died with their children in their arms. One of them was my daughter. I found her a few steps from the house, her two-year-old son Raad in her arm. Her one-year-old son Ra'ed was lying nearby, his head missing," Nawaf said.

U.S. military officials defended the strike entirely. Implying that the gathering was not a wedding but a clandestine meeting of smugglers and foreign fighters, Maj. Gen. James Mattis asked, "How many people go to the middle of the desert 10 miles from the Syrian border to hold a wedding 80 miles from the nearest civilization?" Mattis continued, "There were more than two dozen military-age males. Let's not be naive."

Videotape was released a few days later that showed the wedding guests singing and dancing, and showed the bride, wearing a Western-style white dress and veil stepping out of the bridal car decorated with colorful ribbons.

How many more weddings have been disrupted, ruined, or attacked in Bush's war of aggression? Five months after the Makr al-Deeb massacre, a U.S. air strike killed 11 people and wounded 17 at a wedding party in Fallujah.

In April 2006, 27-year-old Media Majeed was struck in the head by a stray bullet as she sat in the passenger seat of a car headed to her brother's wedding. At the March Winter Soldier event held in Washington, D.C., Private Clifton Hicks testified that his unit "had fired automatic weapons into the middle of a wedding party, wounding and killing several guests, and [they] were told to drive away and forget about it."

The wedding celebration has long been one of Iraq's most important community events, involving hundreds of guests in parties that lasted through the early morning. Despite the war, Iraqi couples "still want everything to be perfect," according to Nadia Habib, a wedding planner in Baghdad.

But now, the wedding crowds are smaller and the parties are hurried, since the occupation forces keep the country under strict curfew and the threat of brutal violence always looms. Habib organizes only half the weddings she did before the war. The wedding tradition, like so many others that made up the fabric of Iraqi life, has been violently ripped apart.

The U.S. corporate media insisted that Jenna Bush wanted her ceremony to remain "private." Yet somehow, by the time of the big day, we had learned every detail of the bride's dress, the ring, the wedding attire and pre-wedding events. Bush and the capitalist ruling class that stands behind him continue to flaunt their decadent lifestyles after having ruined countless weddings and having left so many Iraqis grieving for their lost partners.

The Iraqi occupation cannot go on a day more. Any politician who prolongs the tragedy—even one more day—is a de facto war criminal and should be held responsible. Every time the corporate media distracts us with the details of another lavish wedding, let us remember the massacre at Makr al-Deeb. Let us remember Media Majeed who arrived at the hospital with bloodied wedding flowers still in her hands. Let us remember Sean Bell, gunned down in 2006 in a hail of police bullets the night before his wedding was to take place.

Let us remember them, and let us bring justice to them all.