anti-us protest in baghdad

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    A noisy crowd of Iraqis gathered around Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel and raised anti-American slogans on Sunday, signaling that the popular mood in the besieged capital was fast turning against the US troops.

    Fed up with the anarchy and looting as also the breakdown of essential services ever since the start of the war, the protestors yelled that the US troops were doing nothing to help restore normal life in the city.

    A young Iraqi girl asks for food at an American checkpoint

    “They are guarding oil facilities, but have not done anything as yet to restore essential services like power and water, “ alleged Ali Zuhair. Another of the protestors said that the “Americans were interested only in oil.”

    Stung by the pitch of the protests, US soldiers quickly set up barricades round the hotel to keep the protestors at bay.

    But the US soldiers could do little to silence the protestors. They shouted slogans in praise of Iraq and warned against any attempt to thrust upon the Iraqis a military of a “foreign” government.

    “Iraq, you are our beloved country and your sun will never set,” they chanted.

    As everyone in the crowd expressed their collective dismay over the anarchy, one university teacher said he had witnessed some US soldiers encouraging the looters to plunder a university.

    “I saw for myself how the US troops goaded Iraqis to loot and burn the University of Technology,” claimed the professor Shakir Aziz.

    Elsewhere too, Iraqis both inside and outside of Baghdad poured scorn over the US and British troops for having done precious little to prevent the country from spiraling into lawlessness.

    The dean of Basra university, Abdul Jabar al-Khalifa was gripped with rage as he surveyed the charred remains of what once used to be his office. “Is this freedom of Iraq or the freedom of thieves,” he questioned.

    Southern Iraq’s prestigious university has suffered terrible losses in the anarchy that followed the war. Looters over ran it and computers, air conditioning units and furniture were carried away before the mobs set large parts of the campus on fire.

    The disconsolate University dean was convinced that the British were to be blamed. “They didn’t do anything to stop the looters. I hold them therefore responsible,” he said.

    Other Basra residents were equally bitter of the British troops. “They did not make any effort for the first few days. They did not move until too late,” alleged Al-Habib, a US-returned academic.

    As in Basra, many in Baghdad have begun to eye the foreign troops more as villains than “liberators.”

    “The last few days have been worse than all my days under Saddam,” insisted Ahmed al-Khatib, an elderly resident.

    Many also suspected sinister designs behind the lawlessness. In between patrolling his neighborhood of Al Mansura against looters, Ahmed Aziz al-Hadithi alleged that “the looters were spies bought off by those who wanted to destroy Iraq.”

    “One day or another, honest Iraqis are going to force out the Americans, not for the sake of Saddam Hussein, but for the sake of Iraq,” Hadithi said
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