It seems that the trade in tents in our land has peaked, with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis currently living in tent cities due to ongoing U.S. military operations. First we heard about sprawling tent camps erected to house the fleeing refugees from Falluja, a city with nearly 300,000 inhabitants which the U.S. military had to destroy -- ostensibly to pacify it. Then came reports of tent cities rising on the outskirts of the oil-rich centers of Kirkuk and Khaniqeen. And now we hear of yet another tent city – this one for the fleeing inhabitants of the border town of Qaim, which for the past week has been the scene of ferocious fighting.
Our Red Crescent and the International Red Cross have mobilized their forces in the country. Their main task is to pitch tents in the desert to house families uprooted as a result of fighting. As they hand out their tents and sacks of flour, they invite international media to cover their humanitarian gestures.
But the media are barred from covering bombardment and shelling by U.S. tanks, warplanes and helicopter gunships. We still lack any pictures of the destruction that took place in Qaim. But we are certain of one thing: U.S. military operations, despite the use of massive fire power and bombs weighing more than 500 kilograms, have failed to defeat the insurgents.
Two years ago the White House thought it had emerged victorious in its bid to dislodge former leader Saddam Hussein and its chief, George W. Bush, went on television declaring, “mission accomplished.” We wonder whether U.S. leaders and military commanders give a damn about the consequences of sending their gigantic military force into action. If they have no idea, they should visit Falluja, which their forces have turned into a “homeless town.”
Not all tent cities are a result of the U.S. invasion of our land. Some of them are the making of the former dictatorial regime that was just as barbaric in quelling towns and forces opposed to it.
Iraqi refugees who have opted to return from Iran have pitched a run-down tent city in Khaniqeen, close to the Iranian border. Some 1,700 families languish in this tent camp where women, children and the elderly scramble for food and water.
The presence of so many tent cities comes amid a latest government study on the situation in the country. The study says that 50% of Iraqis are unemployed, more than 80% have no access to a stable power supply and child mortality and malnourishment are higher than the pre-invasion period, when the country was under sweeping U.N. trade sanctions.
And still our occupiers and their government would like us to talk about “the new Iraq” and want us to be “optimistic” about the future.