"an enemy they can fight, at last"

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu May 8 07:08:29 MDT 2003

Danger seen in angry Iraqi youth

By Patrick Healy, Boston Globe Staff, 5/8/2003

FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Abraham Ghanan's body is stunted by malnutrition -- a
16-year-old whose sallow frame is fit for a boy of 10 -- but he keeps
his arms strong, he says, in hopes of throwing grenades with perfect aim

''I eat in the morning, a little in the day, not at night,'' Ghanan
said, standing outside a US Army outpost in this city's center. ''But I
have strength to kill. We want to put bombs on our body, to make a
suicide operation to show we are not down.''

''These soldiers, they are the sons of George Bush,'' adds Omar Nizar, a
reed-thin, barefoot 14-year-old. ''We will fight them.''

Stunning poverty and youthful bravado are a dangerous, common
combination on the streets of Fallujah, known for its proud Bedouin
families whose hot-headed streaks are legendary. And threats like
Ghanan's are taken seriously by the US soldiers here: Not only are angry
young men harassing and firing on their base intermittently, and running
a brisk illegal gun market a mile away, but they're also seen as viable
new recruits for anti-American agitators in Iraq and even terrorist
groups abroad.

''We are keeping a close eye on the young men,'' said Lieutenant Colonel
Dave Poirier, stationed at another US camp on the outskirts of Fallujah
that was just set up to reduce tensions downtown. ''We're trying to help
these people, not anger them.''

But some soldiers say privately that they fear they're seeing Saudi
Arabia all over again. The presence of US troops in that country has
been one of Al Qaeda's chief complaints and best recruiting tools,
producing 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers. Now, Iraqis across the
country are saying that if the United States only seeks to be a
continuing force in running the country's political affairs and oil
industry then Americans will be seen as self-interested occupiers among
people who have little but their own festering resentments.

At the Thaat Nitagain Sunni mosque in an upscale Baghdad neighborhood,
the 32-year-old imam, Basim al-Hamoundi, says that many young Iraqis are
growing angry as they watch the two solid structures in their lives --
their families and the Hussein government -- break down. Many families
have no money for food, no clean water. Many of the young are orphans,
having lost parents to starvation, disease, or the former regime's
brutality. More than a quarter are chronically malnourished, according
to the United Nations. Young boys and male teenagers, especially, are
quitting high school, no longer seeing the point. They've grown up in
war -- against Iran in the 1980s, then Desert Storm, ''then the
starvation under the UN sanctions of the '90s,'' Hamoundi said, and the
US-led coalition.

''Now this illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq has given them an
enemy they can fight, at last,'' Hamoundi says



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