Monday, March 12, 2007

What's it all for?

I didn't want anyone to miss the appreciation of Mohammad Hayawi, the legendary bookseller of Mutanabi St., Baghdad, published yesterday in the WaPo. The author was the WaPo's gifted Middle East correspondent, Anthony Shadid, who also wrote an excellent book on immediate pre and post-war Iraq, "Night Draws Near."

Mohammed Hayawi was a mainstay of Mutanabi street, which was one of the unofficial centers of intellect and culture in war-torn Baghdad. He was intelligent, rational, non-sectarian and proud--once, when stopped at a checkpoint and asked by a US army officer, "who are you," he responded, "who are YOU?! what are YOU doing here? you are a guest in our country!" Mostly, he was a good businessman, maintaining his book stall on Mutanabi street despite the terrible turmoil afflicting the center of the Iraqi capital.

Hayawi's mostly happy life ended last week, in a suicide bombing that apparently targeted that part of town. It is hard not to believe reason and tolerance were not the main objectives, because all the people on that street had lots of both. That's the problem with a broken state wracked with ethnic conflict--the rational, non-sectarian, objective people either leave voluntarily, as have thousands of academics, doctors and lawyers, or become the targets of zealots, like Hayawi. They understand that the situation in the country can no longer be mitigated by reason and logic, that emotion and sectarianism have triumphed. This leaves us with the true believers, the fanatics and which case, you have to wonder, what changes are American military personnel capable of making there? How in the world will foreign military forces do what the smartest, most rational and capable nationals were NOT able to do?

Has this occurred to any of the best and the brightest in the White House? Do you think they even READ the PAPER?!


Blogger HopeSpringsATurtle said...

RIP Mohammad. Thanks for writing this up, I missed ti. Hard to get all the news with the level of this high.

12:04 AM  
Blogger jodmeister said...

I totally appreciated this article and kudos to Anthony Shadid for bringing one of the countless Iraqi citizens that lost their lives due to this pointless war. I know at least I tend to forget that while battles in war go on, there are innocent citizens in the crossfire. Not only RIP to Mohammad Hayawi but to all the innocent Iraqi citizens who have lost their lives along with American and her Allied troops.

9:34 PM  

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