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Bush “Surprise Visit,” a Lead Balloon in Iraq

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George Bush’s much ballyhooed “surprise” visit went over like a lead balloon in Iraq.

Even before Bush left Baghdad, thousands of supporters of the Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr had taken took to the streets in protest -- an incredible feat of organizing when you consider even Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki didn’t know about Bush’s trip until five minutes before his arrival.

“As an Iraqi, I’m so disappointed!” bellowed Sa'dik al-Hasnawi, head of the Sadr Movement office in Diwaniya. “Bush’s visit shows Iraq is the 51st state. It doesn’t make any sense that the President of one country comes to visit another country with sovereignty and is own right to self-determination without the President and the Prime Minister having any information about it. The Iraqi government won’t do anything without permission from America. So we have a country without a government.”

Meanwhile, citizens of Baghdad have begun life under an ongoing dusk-'till dawn curfew and new American military manoeuvre called "Operation Forward Together."

In the aftermath of Bush’s visit, Iraqi authorities imposed a curfew in the capital hoping to stem the tide of violence that seems to continue unabated. No one is allowed outside from 9pm until 6 in the morning. Cars will be banned from the roads during Friday prayer. Up to 75,000 Iraqi and US soldiers using tanks and armored vehicles are being deployed across Baghdad.

“There is a lot of military,” computer programmer Alaa al-Obeidi said from his home in Baghdad. “Tanks, a lot of soldiers, but it’s just a huge show of force. They are showing off. They’re just going around.’

“They have a lot checkpoints, but they are not doing any real checking,” he added. “They’re just harassing people and delaying us. That’s it.”

Almost immediately after the new operations launched, a car bomb exploded in
Baghdad killing two people and wounding seven. In the Sunni neighborhood of Adamiya, Reuters reports, gun-men blocked roads with stones and tree trunks and exchanged fire with Iraqi police.

Mothana al-Dhari is spokesman for Iraq's Sunni clerical establishment, the Association of Muslim Scholars exaplined:

“Now the government is announcing publically that there is no legitimate resistance,” he said. “We expect to hear this from the government, because they are saying they are a legitimate government. So they want to make anybody against them illegitimate. The first people they want to make illegitimate is the armed resistance. But the armed resistance is against the American occupation.”

Al-Dhari says the fighting will continue. He says under international law, any people under foreign occupation have the right to take up arms.

So, despite Bush’s broad pronouncements, the fighting will continue.

Pacifica radio network reporter Aaron Glantz is author of the new book "How America Lost Iraq" (Tarcher/Penguin). More information at


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Pacifica radio network reporter Aaron Glantz is author of the new book "How America Lost Iraq" (Tarcher/Penguin). More information at
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