Iraqis Tell Their Stories

This post, written by Dal LaMagna, originally appeared on My DD

On his fourth day in Amman, Dal recounts meetings from the previous day. Three Iraqi men tell their stories.

My third day full of meetings and hearing varying Iraqi perspectives continues. I've noticed in this short time - that seems quite long, actually - that two things in particular keep making their way into my brain.

First, I'm hearing the same things over and over, from varying segments of the Iraqi population.

Second, I am absorbing information as quickly as I can, but am stunned by how much I and my own country don't yet fathom about this war.

I've still haven't caught you up to the latest meeting I was involved in, but here are synopses of each meeting through Wednesday afternoon, June 6, 2007.

Taha Al-Lihabi

Taha Al-Lihabi is a member of the Iraq Parliament and a member of the Independent Islamic Party. In April 2007, he was in the cafeteria building next to the Parliament during the suicide bomber attack. Al-Lihabi was injured, and a friend of Mohammed al-Dynee's died in his arms.

Al-Lihabi is in Amman now, being treated for his injuries. When we met, he wore sunglasses because of a recent eye operation. His hearing also suffered as a result of the attack; he has only 20% of it left.

He wanted me to videotape me so I did (which is terrific since he had so much to say and so many questions he wanted America to answer.)

What follows is a rough summary of my listening meeting with him and two other people I met. When I return to the States, I'll have the video transcribed.

Al-Lihabi claims to have been involved with meetings between the American troops and some of the mediators for the Resistance. He said the feeling he had during the talks was that the Americans were not serious about getting together with the Resistance.

He had heard that many Americans believed the Sunni Arabs accounted for only 20% of the Iraqi population, and he wanted to know where President Bush got the figure. (See "Dangers of the 80% Solution" for background.) He said that the 20% number was incorrect, and that in reality Sunnis account for 42.6% of the Iraqi population.

Al-Lihabi spoke of the elections and was insistent that they were forged. He talked about four truckloads of ballots coming in from Iran that he said the American's actually caught.

He said that he would be happy if the Americans made a scheduled withdrawal. He added that he and others would like to hold the American Administration responsible for the damage, theft, and loss of life that has taken place in Iraq since the invasion. "We would like to be friends with the America people," he said, explaining that his country people would like to conduct business and deal with Americans on the basis of mutual interest.

Sheik Khalaf Al-Olayan

Sheik Khalaf Al-Olayan is also a member of Iraq's Parliament. He is the General Secretary for the Council of National Dialogue Front. He works with Dr. Tariq Hashimi, the Vice President of Iraq, and with Dr. Adnan al-Dulaimi. The three head up the National Accord Front. These are both political parties that want a unified Iraq rather than a partitioned one. He is also a former army officer and tribal chieftain from Anbar Province.

Al-Olayan also said that he would like a scheduled withdrawal of American troops as soon as possible.

He also made clear that there were very few al-Qaeda members who were Iraqi, noting with aggravation however, that Iraqi young men were being recruited by al-Qaeda inside the American prisons.

Here is a summary of a very long conversation. Again, there will be an actual transcript of the meeting when I return.
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