Marines try to coax desert town into coalition camp

November 3rd, 2005  
Team Infidel

Topic: Marines try to coax desert town into coalition camp

by Patrick Baz

SAADA, Iraq, Nov 2 (AFP) - For people in the desert town of Saada, near the
Iraqi border with Syria, the choice is stark and, for some, very unwelcome
-- Sunni fundamentalists known as Salafists or troops of the US Marine

Perched on a US vehicle, an Iraqi soldier tells residents: "The government
has decided, along with the help of the Iraqi army and the marines, to give
you some medical assistance and a food distribution."

A civil affairs unit from the marine regiment stands by to help.

"We have been without help for almost five months," says local mayor
Mohammed Badawi. "The clinic is closed and we can't leave the village.

"When the routes are not blocked by military checkpoints, bandits rule. So I
asked the marines for help."

One elderly man complains querously: "We haven't received our pensions for
months. You have to go to Husayba where we might be killed because our tribe
has been accused of collaborating with the Americans."

For some, the American help is at best a mixed blessing.

As they open up the clinic, one of the women arriving with a child to be
treated, says: "I don't have any choice, I am forced to have my girl treated
by those who arrested my husband."

Another, with a baby in her arms, asks the Americans to free her husband who
has been detained for nine months.

"He did not see his daughter born, he is innocent," she pleads.

Ahlam Abed, whose face is tattooed, welcomes the US presence: "The
Salafists kidnapped my cousin, a police officer, a week ago. We pray they
don't cut off his head," she said.

"These are not Iraqi methods, they are foreigners who bring fatwas
(religious edicts) giving them the right to massacre people and behead

But another woman chimes in: "The Americans kill too. They kill women and

More women arrive with small children, some in their arms, others hiding in
their skirts. Disabled and sick men also arrive, and curious adolescents
join the crowd.

Iraqi soldiers check everyone with metal detectors and the men get a body
pat-down as well.

The US troops treat 65 people in four hours in their mission to win over the
people, overlooked by the grim graffiti warning on the normally-unused
clinic wall: "No to apostates, yes to Salafists".

Sergeant Shawn Lawson vaccinates children and Captain Philip Geiger examines
infants, watched by waiting women covered from head to toe.

Geiger said he could treat only simple illnesses and give vaccinations and
advice. Those who needed blood tests or more advanced treatment would have
to go elsewhere.

Outside, one person needed a miracle.

A deaf mute tried to make a soldier understand that he wanted to see the

"He hopes the healers will help him recover his senses," said a
white-bearded man, leaning on a cane with a keffiyeh covering his head.

As the medics pursue their work, a woman in her fifties is wheeled in by two
young people. "She had a stroke when her son joined the Salafists," one
person whispers.

Further on, a US soldier hands out radios that have been set to Radio Peace,
which is financed by Washington. "That will allow them to listen to free
speech," a psy-ops (psychological operations) major named Hurley claims.

But one young man promptly tunes in to a religious programme broadcast by
Syrian state radio, prompting Hurley to ask his interpreter: "Was that the
correct channel?"

Meanwhile, kids pester the marines, calling: "Mister, mister, food, mister"
until finally three distribution centres are supplied with sacks of lentils,
and cartons of pasta, vegetable oil, tomato sauce, juice and flour.
November 3rd, 2005  
Good stuff yanks.
November 3rd, 2005  
good move!

thnx 4 posting