Assume the Position

Monday, March 03, 2003
The #1 Reason the US lets the UN Headquarters stay in NYC: it makes this easier.

Brotherhood In Baghdad. The Muslim Brotherhood is the granddaddy of modern Islamist movements (background from FAS,, and JDL). According to Syed Saleem Shahzad's article in the Asia Times, they are resurgent in Iraq.
Despite the best efforts of Saddam's security apparatus, including monitoring all those who attend mosques, the Brotherhood has managed to plant seeds in the minds of many Iraqis.

For example, although Dr Yusuf Al-Qardawi is no longer a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, he is recognized as a leading Islamic scholar in the Middle East. His books are included in the syllabus of Saddam University. Similarly, the seminal Koranic commentary written by Syed Qutub is also included as a reference book.

According to a teacher at Saddam University, a student reading these books will gain an insight into the philosophies and ideas of the Brotherhood. At the same time, the books' footnotes give references to other important "firebrand" literature relating to the Muslim Brotherhood. As a result, a demand has been generated, and these books are now smuggled into the country, mostly from Syria.

Over the past few years some suspected members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been arrested, and simply disappeared from sight, along with their families. In the past six months, however, after crackdowns at Saddam University where suspected Brotherhood members were arrested and literature seized, the suspects were subsequently freed with warnings after a few weeks in detention.

The reason for this, apparently, is the realization that the Muslim Brotherhood in Iraq is now not limited to a few individuals. They exist in many underground groups from north to south, and authorities fear that any repressive action will generate a fierce reaction.

I'll post stuff from the Asia Times occasionally even though I rate their credibility to be somewhere near DEBKA's. This item, even if inaccurate, is another reminder that Iraq currently has a secular government, not necessarily because that's what the Iraqi people want, but because Hussein ruthlessly suppressed the Islamists. The general assumption, backed by the assurances of the Iraqi National Congress, seems to be that most Iraqis, having seen Iran under the Mullahs and Afghanistan under the Taliban, will want some form of democratic government rather than the establishment of an Islamic state. While that's probably the best assumption that can be made right now, it isn't guaranteed; and the real level of popular support for Islamist movements in Iraq remains unknown.

Sunday, March 02, 2003
Some Volunteer Targets Are Upset and are even going home. This first Telegraph story from February 23, 2003, sets the stage.
The first Western "human shields" will take up their places at strategic sites around Iraq today as dissent among them grows about the nature of the targets they are being asked to protect.

Fifteen volunteers from the first 200 shields are moving into a bunker at the South Baghdad Electricity Plant in an effort to deter attack by America and its allies.

However some of the shields yesterday questioned Iraq's selection of the power plant, after discovering that it is situated next to an army base.

Since the shields' first visit to examine their new quarters, sandbags and unmanned check points had been erected around the plant. Asked about the neighbouring Rasheed military base, an Iraqi official said: "Don't worry, it is a small army camp."

The Iraqi government has drawn up a list of other sites that it wants shields to protect. These include water purification plants, communication centres, food stores, historic monuments and oil refineries.

One shield who has agreed to move into the bunker in the South Baghdad Electricity Plant is Godfrey Meynell, 68, a former high sheriff of Derbyshire and a veteran of the Colonial Office in Aden, south Yemen.

He has appealed to the RAF not to kill him. "I am an old man and they know I am here," he said. "If they bomb this site, they will be deliberately targeting me too."

The electricity plant has been rebuilt after being destroyed by four missiles during the Gulf war in 1991. One landed just yards from the heart of the complex, an area now converted into basic accommodation.

The latest from the Telegraph has an appropriate headline, "Inside the deluded world of the 'human shields'" (link via Tim Blair).
"I am ashamed to be leaving you at this time of need, but I'm going out of pure, cold fear," Godfrey Meynell, 68, told the two Iraqi factory workers standing before him. His white hair was, as always, unbrushed; his navy windcheater zipped up to the chin. "This power plant is next to a bridge, surrounded by Republican Guard," he continued. "It's obviously a prime target." The men, who understood this fear too well, returned his handshake and thanked him warmly.

As he heaved his rucksack into the taxi, Mr Meynell, a former Colonial Office civil servant, was tearful. He was not, however, the only "human shield" fleeing Baghdad yesterday in a state of high emotion. Nine of the 11 British shields on the pioneering wave of red double-deckers left this weekend. At the Andalus hotel five kilometres away, Dr Abdul Hashimi, the official overseeing their mission in Iraq, had issued the shocked group with an ultimatum: deploy to the "strategic sites" hand-picked by the government or leave immediately.

Yes, that's the same Godfrey Meynell from the first story. He apparently overcame his prior delusions.
Not all the sites were as welcoming [as the granary]. Daniel Pepper, a 22-year-old student from Pennsylvania, was not fooled by the oil refinery, despite the comfortable beds with parcels of goodies laid out on the pillows. "The people staying there sleep 50 yards from stacks billowing black smoke." he said. "And it's sinister: 20 minders are there for eight shields. There are three security gates, including one manned by plain-clothed guards carrying AK47s. Most shields want to get out of there and go to the granary.

"As a former diplomat, I should deal with the Iraqi officials. I speak their language," she [Sue Darling, 60] said. Once in Baghdad, Ms Darling, who had traded her red puffa-jacket and walking boots for smart suits and Jackie O glasses, quickly acquiesced to the demands of the regime and moved into the granary.

Kevin and Helen Williams, a soft-spoken couple from Wales, were baffled by this volte-face: "We always understood that human shield meant a shield of humans and that we would be allowed to work with Iraqi civilians. Why it is being interpreted differently now?"

No, you ignorant twits, "human shield" has always meant that you are "human" and you are to physically "shield" something with your bodies. It has never been a term having reference to the objects being protected.

There is a point at which the clueless move beyong being mere "useful idiots" and become dangerous fools, those volunteer targets remaining in Iraq have passed that point.

Original content copyright © 2002-2005 Lynxx Pherrett. All rights reserved.