Wednesday, April 9, 2003
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CELEBRATION ROUNDUP: OK, time to
CELEBRATION ROUNDUP: OK, time to relay the really good news. The New York Times on the fall of Baghdad:
"Residents swarmed out onto the streets today, suddenly sensing that the regime of Saddam Hussein was crumbling, and celebrating the arrival of United States forces.
Throngs of men milled about, looting, blaring horns, dancing and tearing up pictures of Saddam Hussein. Baath party offices were trashed.
Occasional sniper fire continued, but Iraqi resistance largely faded away."
The Washington Post:
"Saddam Hussein's rule over the capital has ended, U.S. commanders declared Wednesday, and jubilant crowds swarmed into the streets here, dancing, looting and defacing images of the Iraqi leader. A Marine tank toppled a giant statue of Saddam in a sweeping, symbolic gesture.
In the most visible sign of Saddam's evaporating power, the 40-foot statue of the Iraqi president was brought down in the middle of Firdos Square. Cheering Iraqis, some waving the national flag, scaled the statue and danced upon the downed icon, now lying face down. As it fell, some threw shoes and slippers at the statue - a gross insult in the Arab world.
The scene was telecast worldwide by CNN and others.
'I'm 49, but I never lived a single day,' said Yusuf Abed Kazim, a Baghdad imam who pounded the statue's pedestal with a sledgehammer. 'Only now will I start living. That Saddam Hussein is a murderer and a criminal.'
Others marked the regime's dissolution more passively, picking flowers from a nearby garden and handing them to Marines. While the capital was celebrating, the fate of Saddam and his sons remained unknown, two days after they were targeted by four 2,000-pound U.S. bombs in Baghdad."
The Christian Science Monitor (with a classic understatement from a U.S.general):
"The battle for Iraq's capital is quickly turning into a rout.
'The capital city is now one of those areas that has been added to the list of where the regime does not have control,' Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said this morning at the daily Central Command briefing in Qatar.
Shiite residents of the Saddam City neighborhood, long shunted aside by the Hussein regime, danced in the streets and looted property. In scenes reminiscent of Eastern Europe after the Berlin Wall fell, Baghdad residents used ropes and a sledgehammer in an attempt to pull down a statue of Hussein in Firdos Square."
The Financial Times:
"Crowds of Baghdad residents took to the streets of the Iraqi capital on Wednesday, destroying and looting symbols of Saddam Hussein's regime after organised resistance to the arrival of US forces in the Iraqi capital evaporated.
In the city's Firdos square, a large crowd watched and cheered as US troops pulled down a monumental statue of the overthrown Iraqi leader, stamping on the bronze figure after it fell to the ground and then dragging its head through the streets.
Elsewhere, crowds looted government and other official buildings, seizing vehicles and dragging off computers, generators and other equipment.
Correspondents for the Reuters news agency in the city reported hundreds of people gathering on street corners, chanting 'Bush, Bush'."
The FT has some great pictures, too.
The Guardian reports that celebrations are not just limited to Baghdad:
"TV pictures showed Iraqis welcoming US forces, and there were also reports of Iraqis celebrating in Kurdish areas of northern Iraq.
These included the city of Irbil, 220 miles north of Baghdad, and the Guardian's Luke Harding, in Sulaimaniya, also witnessed scenes of jubilation.
'Everybody has poured out onto the street and there are scenes of total chaos and sheer, sheer delight,' he said.
'Thousands of people are in the streets celebrating. They believe Iraq is liberated. They believe that Saddam Hussein is finished.'"
The great thing is that these images are being shown on a fair number of Arab television networks -- though not on state-run TV. The Arab media reaction is mixed -- the BBC report makes it clear that some of the Arab networks are acknowledging that Iraqis are happy to be free of Saddam. On the other hand, this Washington Post roundup highlights a lot of press coberage that is either delusional or defeatist. The Reuters story splits the difference.posted by Dan on 04.09.03 at 01:43 PM