Monday, July 16, 2007

Opinion (Peter Beaumont ): The parallel worlds of war and peace

Above: A massive truckbomb in Tal Afar in April left 152 dead, 500 wounded and 100 houses destroyed.

The cycle of murder and vengeance grinds quickly in Iraq. In the western city of Tal Afar, it was all over in 10 minutes.

No one saw how Jamil Salem Jamil, 19, arrived. A slim Sunni youth, with a thick crop of black hair above his elongated features, he walked down the alley to the house where Khosheed Abbas, a policeman, his fiancee, Mariam Azzideen, and their families, all Shiites, were sitting down to a simple wedding feast.

When Jamil tried to force his way into the courtyard of the house, Khosheed bundled him away, saving his fiancee and several dozen family members. But not himself. As Jamil staggered back he detonated his suicide vest, cutting down four of the family, including two young children, one of them, Bushyr, a girl aged 6.

And in an Iraq still gripped by sectarian violence these things are not so easily concluded.

As Jamil and his victims died, another family in this mixed Shiite-Sunni neighbourhood were also sitting down to eat. They were Sunnis this time, living 100 meters distant -- the family of Jihan Salah, also 19, who was standing in her family's courtyard behind locked metal doors.

When Khosheed's father came looking for someone to shoot - came looking for a Sunni - that person was Jihan.

Read the rest at the New Zealand Herald