Sunday, November 16, 2008

Baghdad's Palestine Hotel Open for Business: Nothing to See Here, Move Along?

Several years ago, a unilateral invasion of Iraq by America and a couple dozen other countries replaced Saddam Hussein with a puppet government: or maybe freed Iraq from a brutal dictator. It depends on how you look at it.

Between Al Qaeda, Iraqis who liked Saddam Hussein's rule, and the usual assortment of people who enjoy killing other people, the next few years weren't good for business in Baghdad. Or anywhere else in Iraq.

And, if you believe some accounts, at least some American soldiers were always being rude to journalists and occasionally shooting them.

Baghdad's Palestine Hotel on Firdos Square Gets Remodeled - the Hard Way

Monday, October 24, 2005, was a particularly bad day for people in Baghdad's Palestine Hotel. First, one suicide bomber blew a hole in the hotel's perimeter. Then another was frustrated by hotel security. He went around a traffic circle and blew up near a mosque.

Odd people, these lions of Islam.

Finally, some martyr driving a cement truck came through the new hole in the hotel's perimeter. Some inconveniently placed barbed wire got the truck tangled, so the suicide bomber blew up there. Which is probably just as well, since the truck was headed for the hotel entrance.

Quite a few people were killed, and The Palestine had to close.

Between the near-miss nature of the attack, journalists being the 'obvious' target, and an Associated Press crew getting video of the cement truck going off, the Palestine Hotel bombing was big news for several days.

Oh, yeah: non-journalists were affected, too. Some foreign contractors were staying at the hotel, and a couple of Iraqi cops were killed.

That was Then, This is Now: The Palestine Opens - Quietly

Journalists got in the habit of staying elsewhere, while The Palestine's management got the place fixed up. The hotel's open now, and the journalists haven't returned.

Except for at least one, who did a 'three years later' report last month.

October 24, 2005: A 'typical day in Baghdad, only worse.
(From FOXNews, used without permission)

October 24, 2008: A T-wall -
Then, a prefab concrete security barrier.
Now, a really big surface for landscapes and other artwork.
(From FOXNews, used without permission)

I'll freely grant that hotel re-openings in other countries don't make much of a splash in American news. By and large, Americans just aren't that interested in events like supermarket openings and hotel remodeling: in Iraq, America, or anywhere else.

On the other hand, I've been impressed at how little attention has been paid to what American soldiers have done in Iraq during lulls in the fighting. I've written before, about Awakening Councils. I think that concerned Iraqis formed these 'American-backed' groups after they had a chance to compare coalition forces to Al Qaeda.

With 'occupying forces' right there in their neighborhoods, many Iraqis noticed "that Al Qaeda was torturing and beheading Iraqis, while Americans were rebuilding power plants, hospitals, and roads."

Sheik Majid Tahir and others in his position figured out that, by and large, Americans were doing more good than harm to his country. Maybe, someday, traditional news organizations will follow suit.

Stranger things have happened.

News and background:

1 comment:

Brian H. Gill said...

Mukesh Kumar,

I can't see the connection between your comment, and this post: but I may have missed something.

As a recovering English teacher, I could argue several sides of the issue you raise.

Unhappily, education, wage scales, and American education, are not what this blog is about.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.