IN THE BELLY OF THE GREEN BIRD by Nir Rosen

IN THE BELLY OF THE GREEN BIRD

The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq
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KIRKUS REVIEW

To go by current polls, most Americans think American troops should be withdrawn from Iraq. To judge by freelance journalist Rosen’s account, most Iraqis agree.

“It is hard for Americans to understand just how deeply they are hated by ordinary Iraqis,” writes Rosen, who has been covering Iraq since the first days of the invasion. That invasion—which a hopeful Bush administration deemed a “liberation”—swiftly became an occupation, which, Rosen writes, translates into Arabic as ihtilal, the term applied to such historical events as the Crusaders’ invasions of the Holy Land, the Mongol sack of Baghdad in the 13th century and the British dominion over Mesopotamia early in the 20th century. In that light, the honorable thing to do is resist, and the call to do so made some unlikely alliances among sworn enemies, the Sunni and Shia sects that have since plunged Iraq into civil war. Long oppressed in Iraq, the Shias were the ones who, war planners assured us, were supposed to greet the Americans with bouquets; instead, as early as April 2003, Rosen writes, Shia crowds were out in the streets calling for death to America (and Israel, of course), while learned Shia clerics informed their followers that the Americans were only in Iraq for the oil, guided there by “global Masons.” Free to engage in politics since the fall of Saddam, the Shias swiftly formed an organized resistance against the “new Mongols,” namely the American army, which does not acquit itself well whenever it turns up in Rosen’s pages; the GIs, it seems, know better than to go bursting into mosques, say, but their officers tell them that that’s the reason they have guns. Of course, the former members of Iraq’s Hussein-era armed forces have guns, too, and so do the al-Qaeda fighters in Iraq, and so does everyone else arrayed against the invaders.

Sobering reading, and yet more evidence against the neocon adventure in the Middle East.

Pub Date: May 8th, 2006
ISBN: 0-7432-7703-1
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2006