Sunniene er taperne. Det er bare å se på bydelene i Bagdad hvor de dominerer. De ligner på spøkelsesbyer. I shia-områdene derimot er det liv og røre og mat å få.

At det er så ille skyldes til dels sunni-opprørerne som skyter på alt og alle som kan mistenkes for å samarbeide med regjeringen. Det vil si de skyter også mannen som kommer for å reparere vann, kloakk og strøm.

The cityscape of Iraq’s capital tells a stark story of the toll the past four years have taken on Iraq’s once powerful Sunni Arabs.

Theirs is a world of ruined buildings, damaged mosques, streets pitted by mortar shells, uncollected trash and so little electricity that many people have abandoned using refrigerators altogether.

The contrast with Shiite neighborhoods is sharp. Markets there are in full swing, community projects are under way, and while electricity is scarce throughout the city, there is less trouble finding fuel for generators in those areas. When the government cannot provide services, civilian arms of the Shiite militias step in to try to fill the gap.

But in Adhamiya, a community with a Sunni majority, any semblance of normal life vanished more than a year ago. Its only hospital, Al Numan, is so short of basic items like gauze and cotton pads that when mortar attacks hit the community last fall, the doctors broadcast appeals for supplies over local mosque loudspeakers.

Here, as in so much of Baghdad, the sectarian divide makes itself felt in its own deadly and destructive ways. Far more than in Shiite areas, sectarian hatred has shredded whatever remained of community life and created a cycle of violence that pits Sunni against Sunni as well as Sunni against Shiite.

Anyone who works with the government, whether Shiite or Sunni, is an enemy in the eyes of the Sunni insurgents, who carry out attack after attack against people they view as collaborators. While that chiefly makes targets of the Shiite-dominated Iraqi Army and the police, the militants also kill fellow Sunnis from government ministries who come to repair water and electrical lines in Sunni neighborhoods.

One result of such attacks is that government workers of either sect refuse to deliver services to most Sunni areas. For ordinary Sunnis, all this deepens the sense of political impotence and estrangement. American military leaders and Western diplomats are unsure about whether the cycle can be stopped.

Gatene ligger folketomme. Ingen tør gå ut. Gjenger av unge menn streifer rundt. Lokale byråd gjør en stor innsats, men betaler ofte med sine liv. Hvem orker i lengden?

In Adhamiya, the most heavily Sunni majority neighborhood on the east bank of the Tigris, there has also been a succession of armed groups. Most recently, gangs of young men prowled the neighborhood and attacked anyone trying to help local residents. The head of the district council was gunned down 10 days ago; three months earlier his predecessor was killed the same way.

Det finnes hjerteskjærende historier i hopetall.

Ahmed Ali, a grizzled 72-year old carpenter who came for help getting his food ration basket. Mr. Ali closed his carpentry shop because there was no electricity. Known throughout Adhamiya for his craftsmanship, he was famous for making an Arab version of the lute for local musicians.

His eldest son was killed a year ago. When he collected the body at the morgue, he found that holes had been drilled through his son’s joints, a form of torture that is a mark of Shiite militias. Last summer, his younger son was kidnapped near the neighborhood.

He leaned forward slightly on his cane and looked hard at Mr. Daoud as he tried to explain the depth of his losses: the carpentry shop, his food rations, his family. «I made lutes and sometimes I played, but my fingers are numb now,» he said. «I cannot play. I want only to find my kidnapped son.»


Sunni Baghdad Becomes Land of Silent Ruins

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