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Wednesday, April 30, 2003

A quote from an article in the Asia Times (via Robot Wisdom):

'BAGHDAD - Here's something I learned on Sunday: There's a particular etiquette involved in trying to escape by foot from a field that's overflowing with unexploded ordnance of every size and shape - all the way from ordinary hand grenades and rocket rounds lurking in the shrapnel underfoot to moon-shot-sized missiles lying awry on a destroyed flatbed truck - and whose farther end you notice has just been set on fire by a looter.'

. . .

'Looters were crawling all over the place. Weapons remain one of the most prized items for sale in any of Baghdad's many and increasing outdoor markets for stolen goods, and the thieves were picking over the place like children on an Easter-egg hunt. One fat Iraqi man whose house had been destroyed in the previous day's blast kept getting into arguments with people who thought that his house was now fair game. A lot of the looters were smoking, too - including one child whom I saw peering into an empty plastic petrol container.'

'It was dangerous as hell - for everyone concerned.'

This humorous yet scary account points out that weapons are a hot commodity in Iraq, and they're freely available to anyone who wants to get their hands on one. There's also a huge amount of unexploded ordinance lying around. Oh, and that the U.S. doesn't have enough forces on the ground to prevent the reappropriation:

'I asked the soldier what was up, and he explained that they didn't have enough troops to guard the ammo dump, but they were making random sweeps to try to keep a lid on the looting. "They're taking these weapons to use them against our forces," he said, not very happy about it. "But look - you saw that we're being fair. We're only arresting people we catch with weapons. Everybody else we're chasing away even though we know they'll be right back about 10 minutes after we're gone." The caught looters, he said, would be taken to what he called an "EPW camp", meaning they were now "enemy prisoners of war". The soldier brought out a stack of green hoods, and the men looked even sicker and sadder, if that was possible.'

Andrew 11:39 AM : |


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