As I stood in Firdaus Square this day, after invasion, liberation and occupation, I wondered what word described Baghdad.
"This is a civil war now," Harith Abdel-Hamid, a psychiatrist, had told me, trying to diagnose the madness. "When you see hundreds of people killed every day, corpses of people tortured in the streets every day, what else does it mean?"
"Call it what you will," he said, "but it is a civil war."
Perhaps. But I felt as though I was witnessing something more: the final, frenzied maturity of once-inchoate forces unleashed more than three years ago by the invasion. There was civil war-style sectarian killing, its echoes in Lebanon a generation ago. Alongside it were gangland turf battles over money, power and survival; a raft of political parties and their militias fighting a zero-sum game; a raging insurgency; the collapse of authority; social services a chimera; and no way forward for an Iraqi government ordered to act by Americans who themselves are still seen as the final arbiter and, as a result, still depriving that government of legitimacy.
Civil war was perhaps too easy a term, a little too tidy.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
THIS IS BAGHDAD
Back in Baghdad after a year away, Anthony Shadid wonders whether things could be any worse.
Posted by Matt Duss at 9:20 AM