Marcela Gaviria and Martin Smith
Written Martin Smith
ANNOUNCER: Tonight on FRONTLINE, a dangerous place, a
MILITARY OFFICER: This ethnic fault line is really going
to start to erupt.
ANNOUNCER: --a desperate and divided country.
Iraqi Businessman: If the Americans were to pull out,
everybody'd be fighting everybody else. It'd be Sunni against the Shi'ite, the Muslims against the Christians. It's going to be a catastrophe.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight, FRONTLINE correspondent Martin
Smith crosses Iraq. The people
have survived Saddam, he finds. But can they survive themselves?
SMITH, FRONTLINE Correspondent: [voice-over] Last summer, the top U.S. administrator
in Baghdad told me that the press was doing a lousy job of covering the story
here. He said we needed to get out
it's mid-November, and we've come back to see how the U.S. plan to turn this
country into a showcase for democracy in the Middle East is faring. Today I'm in the northern city of Mosul
with General David Petraeus. He's
having the kind of success here that Washington had hoped for. This was our first stop on a five-week
trip across Iraq. We're attending
a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new free trade zone.
OF CEREMONIES: We welcome all our guests in the new
free zone area and--
SMITH: Getting business rolling in the midst
of constant security threats is no easy matter. But with a combination of money well spent, tough military
tactics and what Petraeus will admit is some luck, the general has made steady
progress. We've come here to get
some sense of how much work there is still to do and how long soldiers like
Petraeus will need to be here.
and around 18,000 soldiers moved into northwestern Iraq in late April and set
up headquarters in Mosul, an ancient city on the western edge of
Kurdistan. Petraeus told me the
landscape here reminds him of Kansas. Under names like Task Force Johnny Appleseed, Tom Sawyer, Easy Rider and
Marcus Welby, Petraeus has launched 4,500 reconstruction projects, making Mosul
a showcase for visiting congressmen.
before Ambassador Paul Bremer set up shop in Baghdad, Petraeus held Iraq's
first post-war election. I
followed Petraeus to one city council meeting.
COUNCILMAN: [subtitles] In general, about the searching of
SMITH: They were discussing what right the
newly trained Iraqi police had to search mosques for weapons.
COUNCILMAN: [subtitles] They came into the mosque wearing their
shoes, and they were smoking cigarettes, openly breaking the rules of Ramadan,
contrary to Islam.
Gen. DAVID PETRAEUS, 101st Airborne Division: If the mosques
do not want somebody to go into them, then they should not store mortar
baseplates, mortar-aiming circles and mortar-firing triggers in their
mosques. And for what it's worth,
we will certainly discuss this with the Iraq civil defense corps--
SMITH: This council has met over 50 times and
approved thousands of projects. The plan is that by June, Iraqis will run it by themselves.
Gen. DAVID PETRAEUS: In the past two weeks alone, over 670
RPG rounds and 333 RPG launchers were turned over to us by local citizens.
SMITH: Meanwhile, security remains the biggest
concern. We drove out to the
101st's ammo dump.
camera] So they're bringing us out to a base
here, where they're collecting all this ammunition that-- every day, they get
several truckloads of rockets, SAMs, grenades, explosive material, and they
bring it in here to this old base, Iraqi base, and then they blow it up.
[voice-over] In fact, there is so much ammunition
that it is piling up faster than the 101st can dispose of it.
SMITH: [on camera] Now, some of the IEDs, the improvised
explosive devices, are made out of these very things, right?
SOLDIER: Roger, sir.
SMITH: So you find these things being put into
a road in attempts to kill you guys.
SMITH: [voice-over] The problem for Petraeus now is that
his very success has made him and the 101st an attractive target.
Gen. DAVID PETRAEUS: About a month or so ago, we saw a
sustained spike of enemy activity. We've lost a number of soldiers during that time, had a number of others
wounded. If the enemy sees this as
an example of success, then, of course, they're going to want to take it
on. And they are.
SMITH: At the end of our first day, Petraeus
joined his general staff for his nightly briefing.
OFFICER: --were trying to gain entry through a non-border crossing location, sir.
SMITH: It was a PowerPoint extravaganza. Hundreds of reconstruction projects
Gen. DAVID PETRAEUS: OK, next slide.
SMITH: The 101st, I thought, runs a very tight
Gen. DAVID PETRAEUS: You betcha. OK, next slide.
SMITH: But then came the day's bad news.
RADIO: Two helicopters from the 101st Airborne
Division were flying over a suburban area of Mosul shortly after nightfall when
the crash happened. Eyewitness
accounts speak of some kind of missile striking one of the Black Hawks, which
then collided with the second-- two Black Hawks down, and the worst single loss
of life for the American military since the start of the war.
SMITH: Seventeen soldiers were dead. A visit of U.S. congressmen scheduled
for the following day was canceled.
recently, Mosul had not seen much violence, compared to Baghdad. And it has still not experienced much
in the way of ethnic tension, though the city contains a volatile mix of Kurds,
Arabs and Assyrians.
[Editor's Note: A portion of this transcript has been temporarily removed to protect the security of the individual who was interviewed.]
SMITH: [voice-over] General Petraeus told us that if we
wanted to understand ethnic tensions in Iraq, we should drive to Kirkuk. Traditionally a city of Kurds and
Turkomen, on the southwestern edge of Kurdistan, Kirkuk fell prey to Saddam's
brutal Arabization program in the 1980s. Today the city is claimed equally by Arabs, Turkomen and Kurds, and the
job of sorting out those claims has fallen largely to the U.S. Army.
linked up with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, commanded by Colonel Bill Mayville.
WILLIAM MAYVILLE, 173rd Airborne Brigade: This is a place that could unravel Iraq. This is a place that could begin a spiral, a downward
spiral. Civil unrest is right
here. It's at the surface.
SMITH: Several times in the last few months,
Kurds and Arabs have clashed in the streets. In August, Turkomen also rioted. Turkomen and Arabs both fear that their city is being sold
out from underneath them to the Kurds.
camera] How well does Washington, or even
Baghdad, understand what you're facing here in Kirkuk?
WILLIAM MAYVILLE: First off, let me say no one can-- no
one can possibly hope to appreciate the complexity of Kirkuk until you've been
here and you've spent as much time as we have had the privilege of spending
here. My concern, at this point,
is that one community sees itself being outmaneuvered by the other, takes steps
to make sure it's not outmaneuvered. And then we create this momentum that consumes that city at a rate and a
pace that upsets the other community.
SMITH: [voice-over] While we were in Kirkuk, we ran into a
demonstration of Shia Arabs. These
people were angry about the make-up of the city council and the Kirkuk police
force. Both were dominated by
Kurds. We followed the demonstration
to this mosque and spoke to the chief imam, Abdul Fattah al Musawi.
FATTAH AL MUSAWI: [subtitles] This demonstration is to tell the world
that the provisional government in Kirkuk is illegitimate. Everyone here is opposed to the current
government, opposed to its governors, to its councils, everything.
SMITH: Musawi has signed a petition demanding
the city council be dissolved and seats reapportioned to reflect the fact that
Arabs now make up a large proportion of the city. They live mostly in housing projects on the south side of
town. The Kurds call them "10,000
dinar Arabs," a reference to the incentive money they received from Saddam to
relocate from the south. Most of
them have been here for more than a decade.
ARAB: [subtitles] I live in Kirkuk because it's a
beautiful area and it has nice people. The location and the climate are better than in Basra. My father didn't have enough money to
buy a home in Basra, so we came here. They gave us an apartment and money.
TRANSLATOR: The government, Saddam's government,
gave us money and houses. That's
why we came here.
SMITH: [on camera] What's your opinion about the fact that
the Kurds, some of them, believe that this should be a Kurdish city and that
you, many of you, should go back to the south of Iraq?
ARAB: [subtitles] We're all Arabs here, and we won't
leave this area. Some Kurds live
in Baghdad. Should we ask them to
move? There is only one Iraq. If they want to divide Iraq, it will
only create problems!
TRANSLATOR: One Iraq, all the same.
More on Iraq's ethnic landscape]
SMITH: [voice-over] Under Saddam's Arabization policy,
close to a million Kurds were forced out of their homes. Now they've been coming back to cities like
Kirkuk and settling in refugee camps on the city's east side.
camera] What motivates you to come back here?
KURD: [subtitles] Because we are from
Kirkuk. And now that it is
liberated, we feel that we don't belong anywhere else. It is our homeland. We belong here. We dream of Kirkuk in our sleep.
SMITH: But is this-- is this for you a better
life here now?
KURD: Yes. Yes.
SMITH: But you live here in tents, in what is
essentially a refugee camp.
KURD: [subtitles] Yes, but we prefer to die here than
live somewhere else.
WILLIAM MAYVILLE: The Kurds believe that the war really
was about their repatriation to
lands that they had lost during the Arabization process of Saddam Hussein. They believe that we will underwrite
their return to this province.
SMITH: [voice-over] We followed Mayville to a meeting with
LEADER: [subtitles] We hope you will cooperate with us in
defining Kirkuk as part of Kurdistan. We believe this is our legitimate right. We've never said Arabs, Turkomen and Assyrians can't be in
Kirkuk. The only problem is those
Arabs who, through the Arabization program, settled in Kirkuk.
WILLIAM MAYVILLE: If they want to leave, fine. But if we're not-- you know, if what
we're doing is forcing them to leave, don't we look a lot like the regime we've
LEADER: [subtitles] Those Arabs came here to change our demographics. They came as a tool of ethnic
cleansing. The Kurds are the
owners. The others are occupiers.
WILLIAM MAYVILLE: If you don't recognize that the Shia,
the Kurds, Turkomen and the Arabs are all victims, then you are going to be
fighting one fight after another. Your children will be fighting. And you will see the same cycle of fighting that this land has always
known because you are going down a road-- you're going down a road with this
ultimatum that will be your undoing.
am really worried about what happens here. And to be fair to the communities that are here, I don't
think they have the capacity to solve this problem themselves. They do need outside help. We don't even have the rules of law yet
to arbitrate, mediate or even discuss compensation packages. And we don't-- we just-- what we have is
historical forces at play here.
SMITH: This month, Colonel Mayville and his
unit will rotate out of Iraq. The
work he started here will fall to another coalition commander.
night, our hotel in Kirkuk was attacked.
camera] Somebody apparently drove by and threw
a grenade right in the front of our hotel. We were just upstairs. He threw a grenade, right?
[voice-over] Three members of the hotel staff were
wounded by glass and shrapnel. The
staff assumed it was Ba'ath loyalists targeting a hotel that catered to
Westerners. When police arrived,
hotel security accused them of failing to adequately patrol the
neighborhood. The police tried to
prevent us from filming. Then a
fight broke out. When we kept
filming, one policeman fired three rounds at the windows directly above our
heads to push us back.
other part of Colonel Mayville's job is running military operations against the
resistance. On this night,
Mayville had received intelligence that a Ba'athist cell was operating from a
town 40 miles south of Kirkuk.
WILLIAM MAYVILLE: It is an area where there are constant
attacks against the coalition forces-- mortar rounds, IEDs, the improvised
explosive devices that hit our vehicles. What we're doing is coming in with a large force to let everybody know,
one, to the bad guys, we're going to find you, because we're going to get a
bunch of them tonight. And I think
that you're going to see this kind of an operation going on throughout Iraq,
back and forth, until finally everyone gets to realize that there's a new order
Read Col. Mayville's interview]
SMITH: We arrived in the town, Hawijah, at
dawn. Downtown, we saw many
posters of Saddam and a partially restored mural.
SOLDIER: Back up and pump the gas. Hell, yeah! That's what I'm
SMITH: One thousand soldiers spread out across
town with instructions to move cautiously. Colonel Mayville said the objective was to capture enemies,
not create them. A tip brought
them to this house, where they found eight tubes of C4 explosives, dozens of
SOLDIER: Battery and a switch. That's all you need.
SMITH: --several AK-47s and a banner
proclaiming loyalty to Saddam.
SOLDIER: It says that, "All the people are with you and we will defend you with
everything we've got. We are ready
to defend the great Iraq."
SMITH: The homeowners said the explosives,
guns and banner belonged to their son.
SOLDIER: This is getting extremely serious because if he's harboring terrorists,
he's going to lose his house.
SMITH: But they wouldn't talk until soldiers
brought in a bulldozer and began to destroy the house. The mother then said her son was
plowing a nearby field. He was
arrested that day, along with 25 other men.
WILLIAM MAYVILLE: A really good job on your part, your
soldiers' part, and in terms of precision--
realistic about success. I think
we Americans want very much to earn the respect, to earn a partnership here and
a friendship. I think there's
enough of an idealist in me that I would hope that we could do something like
SMITH: After Kirkuk, we pushed south deeper
into the Sunni Arab lands of central Iraq. The roads between here and Baghdad are notoriously unsafe. A civilian contractor had disappeared
on this stretch a few weeks earlier. [Our driver] told us there would be no stopping for filming. Ambushes are commonplace. [Editor's Note: The name of the driver has been removed for security purposes.]
is the so-called Sunni triangle. Sunni Arabs have long dominated Iraqi politics, but now they have been
stripped of their power. And being
only one fifth of the overall population of Iraq, they worry about how they
will fare in a democracy, nowhere more than in Tikrit, birthplace of Saddam. This is not a place that welcomes
outsiders. Even filming is
difficult. We've been warned to
watch our backs. At a downtown
restaurant where I had lunch, Saddam's picture hung on the wall. And that very day, two coalition
contractors were murdered a few blocks away.
is Saddam's water palace. We've
come to ask the commander of the 4th Infantry Division, now headquartered here,
about the prospect of winning the loyalty of the people in the Sunni triangle.
Gen. RAYMOND ODIERNO, 4th Infantry Division: Some of the problem is they expect the United States to come in and they
would throw billions of dollars, and in six months, this country would be like
Germany is today. You know, it's
an unrealistic expectation.
SMITH: We had come here at a critical
time. It has not been widely
reported, but in October, reconstruction money, so important to winning hearts
and minds, dried up.
Gen. RAYMOND ODIERNO: We were just beginning to see people
reacting to the successes we were having with the water treatment projects,
with the school projects, with the sewage projects, with the police buildings
and the courthouses being developed. We were really starting to see some positive response to all that.
SMITH: [on camera] You had momentum.
Gen. RAYMOND ODIERNO: We had momentum. And so we've somewhat lost that a
little bit. We can regain it, but
SMITH: Why did nobody see that coming?
Gen. RAYMOND ODIERNO: We didn't see it coming. I can't tell you why it happened. I don't know. So we just got to-- it's done. It's water under the bridge. We got to move forward. I think that's my comment on that.
SMITH: [voice-over] It appeared to have serious
consequences. As reconstruction
slowed, anti-coalition violence increased. November, the month we were in Iraq, turned out to be the
most deadly since the war was declared over in May.
is Baqubah, 75 miles south of Tikrit, another hard-hit town. I went to talk to the local U.S.
camera] Hi there.
SUSAN GREIG, 4th Infantry Division: Hello.
SMITH: Hi. Martin Smith. How are you?
SUSAN GREIG: Hi. Lieutenant Greig.
SMITH: [voice-over] Lieutenant Susan Greig says she ran
out of money while trying to set up a police force.
SUSAN GREIG: What happened was, initially when we
arrived here, I mean, we used coalition money. And then, you know, at some point, you know, that ran
down. And honestly, for a few
months, I mean, we were really at a standstill. I couldn't get weapons. I couldn't get uniforms, patrol cars. I have a couple police stations that
only had one patrol car.
SMITH: To make matters worse, Baqubah is among
the most dangerous police posts in all of Iraq. Two days before we got here, suicide bombers struck two
local police stations. Eleven
policemen and five civilians were killed. Many more were injured. We
talked to one of the victims at his home.
MAN: [subtitles] We were standing by the door of the
police station. Then, in a split
second, the car exploded.
SMITH: [on camera] And how badly injured were you?
MAN: [subtitles] A deep injury, into the bone. A screw this big.
FATHER: [subtitles] On top of it all, no one took him to
the hospital. And he hasn't been
TRANSLATOR: [subtitles] How long?
FATHER: [subtitles] Two months without pay. Not a single dinar. They say it hasn't been approved.
SMITH: Will you return to being a policeman
after you are healed?
MAN: [subtitles] Yes, I will.
SMITH: [voice-over] He may return, but many others
haven't. Immediately after the
bombing, around 40 police officers in Baqubah province resigned. Greig told us that in early December,
she'd been assured that money was on its way. But she says she lost valuable time.
SUSAN GREIG: We cannot really work on public works
if we don't have the security to protect the workers that are there. We can ask all the contractors in the
world to come out and build a sewage line and everything else, but you know
what? Someone can come right
behind him, throw a couple RPGs at it, and what do you have? We need the security first, in order to
allow these civilian contractors to get out to do their job.
SMITH: It's a stubborn problem. The more active the resistance, the slower
are security problems throughout the Sunni Triangle. The worst are in Falluja. Less than an hour west of Baghdad, it is the epicenter of
the resistance. On the way there,
we saw two U.S. Army supply trucks that had just been attacked.
we entered the town, there was anti-American graffiti everywhere.
[subtitles] "Long live Saddam. Death to American spies and
cooperators." "Falluja will be a
graveyard for the Americans." "It
is lawful to steal from the Americans, even to kill them."
SMITH: More than 40 American GIs have been
killed in this area since April.
IRAQI: [subtitles] Americans came here for the oil. The American government lied to its
people and the entire world with its claims about weapons of mass
destruction. Where are they? Now they've occupied Iraq for seven
months. Where are the weapons?
SMITH: Throughout central Iraq, it's easy to
find people that complain on the streets, but the people of Falluja were
IRAQI: [subtitles] None of us have seen any good from the
Americans. I will tell you, on
television, I am ready to take on the Americans!
SMITH: Even the mayor, who says he is
pro-American, is critical.
MAYOR: [subtitles] Most of the Americans have a
military mindset. They don't
bother to know or learn about our culture or customs. They have a misinterpretation of Iraqis. When somebody kicks down a door to
search a house, does he expect to be loved?
Read the producer's Falluja dispatch]
SMITH: There's been tension in Falluja since
the end of the war. On several
occasions, American troops have mistakenly shot and killed civilians and Iraqi
policemen. The people have not forgotten, and soldiers remain tense.
a few days before we got here, a warehouse had been raided by soldiers looking
IRAQI: [subtitles] There were more than 50 soldiers. They took our weapons and held us
against the wall with their guns. They broke the locks. They
just kicked the doors in and smashed the glass.
TRANSLATOR: Yeah, they kicked the doors open and
SMITH: As I was listening to the guard, I
heard gunshots. It was a wedding
asked to go inside the warehouse and talk with the owner.
GAZI AL ESSAWI:
[subtitles] Somebody told them I supported the
resistance, that I had weapons, invited Saddam to my house, et cetera. They believed those false informers and
SMITH: He is Sheikh Gazi al Essawi, the leader
of the Bu Essa tribe, one of the
largest and most powerful in the country.
GAZI AL ESSAWI:
[subtitles] Why did they do this to me? I'm not upset that they searched my
house or my company. What upsets
me is that they vandalized my company. Do the Americans want to turn me into a friend or an enemy? Falluja is a tribal society. The way things work here, if one man
slaps another, it's a big deal. It
could lead to a bigger confrontation. It could lead to killing.
SMITH: When we asked the Americans about the
raid, they admitted that they might have overreacted and are investigating the
incident. We spoke to the local
U.S. Army commander, Lt. Colonel Brian Drinkwine.
Col. BRIAN DRINKWINE, 82nd Airborne Division: Sheikh Gazi is rumored to be one of the third or fourth richest sheikhs
in Iraq. He's a man of great
SMITH: [on camera] But you were suspicious of Gazi.
Col. BRIAN DRINKWINE: No, I would not say we're suspicious of
any one sheikh, in particular.
SMITH: One of your captains says, "I don't
like him because he wants to kill me."
Col. BRIAN DRINKWINE: Well, we've had a few threats from
different people. I don't think
that-- you know, Sheikh Gazi is in a position that he can be a future leader of
this city in Iraq. It should not
only be the coalition and CPA providing resources to Falluja. There are Iraqis with money that can do
great good for this city.
SMITH: But he wants U.S. coalition forces out.
Col. BRIAN DRINKWINE: Yeah. Some sheikhs will say that, but to a man, they will tell you
if we did leave and pick up and stack arms and go tomorrow, there will be a
tribal war with more bloodshed than this place has ever seen. You have to develop a representative
government that can stand on its own.
SMITH: How long is it going to take?
Col. BRIAN DRINKWINE: I don't want to put a timetable to
it. I think it's the conditions
that you look for.
SMITH: When are Iraqis on the streets of
Falluja going to tell me that things are better?
Col. BRIAN DRINKWINE: Hopefully, tomorrow they'll tell you
it's a little better.
SMITH: The people that I've spoken to in the
streets, they like to gesture up and down the main boulevard there and say,
"Look, where do you see any improvements? Where is it?" They don't--
they don't see it. And frankly,
it's not-- it doesn't jump out at you when you drive through Falluja that
there's a lot of reconstruction going on.
Col. BRIAN DRINKWINE: It's-- it will take time.
SOLDIER: I'm sorry to interrupt, sir.
SMITH: [voice-over] We were interrupted. A helicopter had been shot down.
SOLDIER: They say they took small arms fire and they say there's two guys
maneuvering on them now, so--
Col. BRIAN DRINKWINE: OK. Let me stop--
SMITH: [on camera] Has there been an ambush?
Col. BRIAN DRINKWINE: It's an incident with another
unit. There's a-- so if you could
give me a minute, we could stop rolling, I be right back.
SMITH: Yeah. Of course. I
[voice-over] Of the 10 American helicopters shot
down over Iraq, 4 came down near Falluja. This time, the Americans were lucky. There were no serious injuries.
we headed south, [our driver] told me we needed to fill our gas tank. Everywhere we went there were
lines. Many of them of went on and
on and on. There was a shortage of
gasoline in Iraq due to decayed pipelines and frequent attacks on oil industry
infrastructure. The people on this
line have been here for much of the night and all morning. We've been told that on average, the
wait is about six hours. [Editor's Note: The name of the driver has been removed for security purposes.]
trip would have been impossible if we hadn't found an alternative source on the
black market. This enterprising
seller buys it from the gas station and sells it to us at six times the market
price. In a country where
unemployment ranges as high as 70 percent, few Iraqis can afford the mark-up.
a full tank, we resumed our trip south. We would have met with U.S. military commanders in the south, but there
are none. Instead Italians, Poles,
British troops and others patrol here.
south is home to the Shia, traditionally the poorest, most oppressed and
marginalized of Iraq's people. Today the Shia are experiencing a revival. Shia pilgrims from Iran and elsewhere -- long prevented from
coming here by Saddam -- are flooding in, to the sacred cities of Najaf, Karbala
and Kufa. Commerce is booming, and
contributions to the local mosques are filling their coffers, making the
clerics who control them rich and powerful.
Shia also know that they have a lot to gain in a democracy. By some counts, they represent 60
percent of Iraq's population. The
preeminent Shia leader in Iraq, whose followers number in the millions, is the
Grand Ayatollah Ali Huseini al Sistani. Sistani has challenged Ambassador Bremer's complex formula for the
selection of a national assembly, calling instead for direct popular elections.
camera] I just want to ask him some
questions. You translate for me,
[voice-over] We tried to talk to him on an earlier
trip to Najaf in August.
SMITH: Who can we ask? Who's the secretary? Is this where Sistani works?
TRANSLATOR: Yeah, he works [unintelligible]
SMITH: [voice-over] His spokesman refused to appear on
camera] We hope to be able to speak to
SPOKESPERSON: [subtitles] The ayatollah doesn't receive anybody
from any television channel or any press. He only accepts written questions. That is his way. Paul
Bremer asked to meet with him. The
assistant to Rumsfeld [Wolfowitz] asked to meet with him. He does not talk to Americans.
SMITH: [voice-over] Another of Iraq's five living grand
ayatollahs, Muhammad al Modarresi, is much more approachable. Like Sistani, he is considered a
moderate. But he warns if the
Americans don't yield to Sistani's demands for direct elections, they risk
Ayatollah MUHAMMAD TAQI AL MODARRESI: [subtitles] The absence of elections in Iraq could
lead to civil war not only between the Sunnis and Shi'ites or between the Kurds
and Arabs, but also within each group. Iraq is a country with many well-armed people. Iraqis are not afraid of death. They are brave.
Read the interview with Modarresi]
SMITH: Meeting with a group of pilgrims from
eastern Iraq, the ayatollah insists on their moving closer. He counsels patience.
Ayatollah MUHAMMAD TAQI AL MODARRESI: [subtitles] It takes three months to build a small room. But if you want to build a skyscraper, it could take you two
to three years. We want to build
an Iraq that lasts. Those that are
now preaching that in a short period of time, all your wishes will be
fulfilled, they are either ignorant or they are pretending to be ignorant.
SMITH: The man moderate Shia leaders fear most
is Moqtada al Sadr. He derives his
power from the prominence of his late father, a much-revered grand ayatollah.
DEMONSTRATORS: [subtitles] Long live Sadr! Moqtada is winning!
SADR: [subtitles] The occupation forces are aggressing the oppressed Iraqi people. They are being unjust and hateful!
SMITH: The most fervent of Sadr's flock wear a
green banner that reads "God's Army." They are the activist paramilitary wing of his religious movement. They have stormed mosques, thrown out
moderate clerics and reportedly threatened the lives of Sistani and other
moderate ayatollahs. U.S. military
intelligence believes they have also organized violence against occupation
forces. The army's size is
unknown, but it is active across the country.
IRAQI: We Army Mehdi.
SMITH: "We are God's Army," he says. Another member is the young imam we met
in Kirkuk, Abdul Musawi. We ran
into him in Najaf after he had come from a meeting with Sadr.
FATTAH AL MUSAWI: [subtitles] So what is the question you wanted to
SMITH: [on camera] Oh, have you met today with Moqtada
FATTAH AL MUSAWI: [subtitles] Every soldier must remain connected to
SMITH: You use military language.
FATTAH AL MUSAWI: [subtitles] Leadership is not confined to the
military. Everyone can have
SMITH: But you consider you're a soldier in an
army of Moqtada's.
FATTAH AL MUSAWI: [subtitles] I'm a soldier in God's Army.
SMITH: [voice-over] Many Iraqis are wary of Sadr and his
followers. Adnan Pachachi is a
secular Sunni member of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council in Baghdad.
camera] Is it a concern of yours that a person
like Moqtada al Sadr can stir up trouble for Iraq?
PACHACHI, Iraqi Governing Council: He's a-- have you met him, by any chance?
SMITH: No. I've been to his Friday prayers. I hope to meet him.
PACHACHI: Well, from what I hear, you know, he's
rather unpredictable, shall I say.
SMITH: He's young?
PACHACHI: Yes, he is. [laughs]
SMITH: What constituency does Moqtada Sadr
AZIZ AL HAKIM: [subtitles] There is no general difference in the
points of view that we adopt.
SMITH: [voice-over] Abdul Aziz al Hakim is also a member of
the Governing Council. But as the
political face of Iraqi Shia, he refuses to admit any differences with Sadr.
camera] I ask again, what does Moqtada Sadr
represent? Who are his followers?
AZIZ AL HAKIM: [subtitles] His followers are those who followed
his father before him.
SMITH: I spoke with Abdul Aziz al Hakim about
Sadr, and he was reluctant to even mention his name.
PACHACHI: Yes. They-- they-- they--
SMITH: They don't want to recognize him.
PACHACHI: No. They dislike him. He's challenging the established authority.
More on Iraq's Shia community]
SMITH: [voice-over] For now, Sadr is not openly advocating
a break with Sistani. He, too,
wants direct elections. If
democracy is coming to Iraq, the Shia must get their due.
AZIZ AL HAKIM: [subtitles] This is the true meaning of
democracy. We expect America to
deliver. The voice of the people
is the foundation of the future of Iraq.
SMITH: Distrust of Americans runs deep in the
south. In 1991, after the first
Gulf war, when Shia rose against Saddam, they were at first encouraged by the
U.S. but then abandoned. Thousands
were slaughtered by Saddam and buried in mass graves.
we've been invited to a memorial service in the town of Shatrah for fallen Shia
martyrs. A veteran of the '91
revolt tells me their fight against the Ba'athists is not over.
camera] There have been some killings of
Ba'athists in the area recently, in the south near Basra.
VETERAN: [subtitles] Ba'athists everywhere are under
attack. What they did to us cannot
be underestimated, and the mass graves are evidence of this.
SMITH: And who is responsible for these
killings now of the Ba'athists?
VETERAN: [subtitles] We chase the Ba'athists
everywhere. For us oppressed
Iraqis, we have the right to track the Ba'athists everywhere.
SMITH: [voice-over] Inside, we attend the memorial service
for martyrs of the 15th of Shaban movement, a militant Shia Islamist
group. Its leader, Hamza al
Mousawi, complains that decades-old sacrifices are not being recognized by the
Al MOUSAWI: [subtitles] Clearly, the Americans aren't looking out for the stability of the
Iraqis but are looking out for themselves. If you listen to the American statements, they are using
Iraq as a base to fight terrorism.
SMITH: Mousawi says he doesn't support
violence, but there are reports that his own 15th of Shaban movement has been
involved in vigilante justice, terrorizing Sunnis, forcing them off their
journey had brought us far south, to the marshlands. Here the great rivers of Iraq, the Tigris and Euphrates,
merge. This is the land of the
Marsh Arabs. Some people believe
that this was the biblical Garden of Eden. For centuries, the marshes were impenetrable, beyond the
control of outsiders. During the
1980s, they provided a hideout for deserters from the Iran-Iraq war. And after the failed '91 uprising, Shia
rebel groups used the area to organize fresh attacks on the regime.
retaliated by draining the marshes, forcing up to 200,000 Shia to flee, many to
Iran, others north to towns like Kirkuk. Ninety percent of the marshes are now destroyed. We saw abandoned villages, and where
there once water, desert. Camel
trains now cross the dry land from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
traveled with 15th Shaban rebels, who took me to an old hideout.
REBEL: [subtitles] We hid over there. This was where we lived. This was also a battleground. We remained in the hideout and fought
SMITH: In a nearby village, they introduced us
to the tribesmen who helped protect them. The chief of the tribe, Hussein al Jabiri, was himself jailed and
tortured by Saddam. His old
cellmate had come today to visit him.
these men have scores to settle. I
talked to the chief over coffee.
AL JABIRI: [subtitles] I was imprisoned for 15 years. I was fined. My son was imprisoned with me. All my family and brothers were in prison. Our homes were destroyed by
Saddam. We know where all
the Ba'athists live. Give us the
weapons we need. We will fight the
Ba'athists until they die or we die.
SMITH: It will be a long time before the
killing stops, before the cycles of revenge wind down. There is too much history here.
across the country for the past five weeks, we've been shadowed by that
history. Many powers have
confronted it: Ottoman Turks, British colonialists, Hashemite kings, Saddam
Hussein, and now the Americans.
our last day, as we headed south through Nasiriya, we ran across history's path
VENDOR: Saddam Hussein! Saddam Hussein!
GAVIRIA, Producer: What happened? They grabbed him, yeah?
SMITH: Saddam had just been captured.
camera] This was all just-- spontaneously broke
out right after the Governing Council made the official confirmation that
Saddam was taken in Tikrit alive today.
[voice-over] A year ago, this was the prize-- the
reason we came here, the just ending. Now it seems like only another stop on the road, a long road. That afternoon, we drove out of Iraq.
Gaviria and Martin Smith
Buk and Miranda Hentoff
FRONTLINE coproduction with RAINmedia
is a production of WGBH Boston, which is solely responsible for its content.
ANNOUNCER: This report continues on our Web site,
where you'll find producers Martin Smith's and Marcela Gaviria's Web-exclusive
dispatches from Iraq while filming this documentary, an interactive map of
Iraq's major ethnic and religious fault lines, FRONTLINE's extended interviews
with U.S. commanders in Mosul, Kirkuk and Falluja, and with Iraqi leaders Adnan
Pachachi, Abdul Aziz al Hakim and others. Plus, watch the full program again on line. Then join the discussion at
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