Iraqis: McCain visit propaganda

Iraqis in the capital said Tuesday that Sen. John McCain's account of a heavily guarded visit to a central market did not represent the current reality in Baghdad, with one calling it "propaganda."

Iraqis: McCain visit propaganda

Iraqis in the capital said Tuesday that Sen. John McCain'saccount of a heavily guarded visit to a central market did not represent thecurrent reality in Baghdad,with one calling it "propaganda."

Jaafar Moussa Thamir, a 42-year-old who sells electrical appliances at theShorja market that the Republican congressmen visited on Sunday, said thedelegation greeted some fellow vendors with Arabic phrases but he was notimpressed.

"They were just making fun of us and paid this visit just for their owninterests," he said. "Do they think that when they come and speak fewArabic words in a very bad manner it will make us love them? This country andits society have been destroyed because of them and I hope that they realizedthat during this visit."

Thamir said "about 150 U.S.soldiers and 20 Humvees" accompanied the delegation.

McCain, a Republican presidential hopeful who was a prisoner of war inVietnam, said he was "cautiously optimistic" after riding with othermembers of a Republican congressional delegation from Baghdad's airport Sundayin armored vehicles under heavy guard to visit Shorja.

The market has been hit by bombings including a February attack that killed137 people. The delegation said the trips were proof that 'security wasimproving in the capital'

McCain acknowledged a difficult task lies ahead in Iraq,but he insisted a U.S.-Iraqi security plan was working citing a recent drop in sectariankillings, the establishment of security posts throughout the city in thewestern Anbar province.

"These and other indicators are reason for cautious, very cautiousoptimism about the effects of the new strategy," the Arizona senator said.

The congressmen, who wore body armor during their hourlong shoppingexcursion at the Shorja market, said they were touched by the resilience andwarmth of the Iraqi people, some of whom would not take money for theirsouvenirs.

The delegation was accompanied by the top U.S.commander in Iraq,Gen. David Petraeus, and followed his lead in taking off their helmets as theybought souvenirs and drank tea.

"I didn't care about him, I even turned my eyes away," Thamirsaid. "We are being killed by the dozens everyday because of them. Whatwere they trying to tell us? They are just pretenders."

Karim Abdullah, a 37-year-old textile merchant, said the congressmen werekept under tight security and accompanied by dozens of U.S. troops.

"They were laughing and talking to people as if there was nothing goingon in this country or at least they were pretending that they were tourists andwere visiting the city's old market and buying souvenirs," he said."To achieve this, they sealed off the area, put themselves in flak jacketsand walked in the middle of tens of armed American soldiers."

"These U.S.officials were using this visit for their propaganda to tell the Americans 'weare gaining progress here, don't worry,' it left a kind of good impression withsome of us," he said. "They are at least better than Iraqi officialswho never venture out their Green Zone to talk to normal people and see theirproblems. I hope that this visit will encourage Iraqi officials to leave theirfortified houses inside the Green Zone."

McCain and fellow Republicans Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Representative Mike Pence of Indiana and Rep. Rick Renzi of Arizonatraveled Monday to Anbar province, west of Baghdad.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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