February 12, 2004

better ambassadors than the "human shields' were...

An interesting WaPo article on a side-effect of our being in Iraq:

... Anti-Americanism is not what it used to be in Iran...Iranian pilgrims returning from Iraq are spreading admiring stories of their encounters with American troops....

...Thousands of Iranians have visited the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala since the war ended. Many have expressed surprise at the respectful and helpful behavior of the U.S. soldiers they met along the way.

Leila Araki, waiting in the back of a Renault sedan as her husband peddled shoes, recalled that her mother-in-law somehow lost her money on the road to Karbala. She said a U.S. soldier reached into his pocket and handed her taxi fare back to Najaf.

"This is something quite contrary to what we have been told about Americans," said Araki, 31, who was told of Americans flashing thumbs-up and saying, "Good, Iranians."

"They were really surprised. I would never be this respected and well-treated even in my country, by my countrymen."

Esmaeil Omrani told of a relative with asthma struggling to breathe in the dust of Najaf. A young American in full battle dress advised him to switch inhalants, then gave the pilgrim his own, plus an extra for the road. "Everybody liked them," Omrani said.

Hossein Amiri related a similar story from a thirsty relative given water by a U.S. soldier outside Najaf when the city was closed by a car bombing...

It's pleasing how the Islamic fondness for pilgrimage is coming in handy to spread that old destabilization...
We are the Pilgrims, master; we shall go
Always a little further; it may be
Beyond that last blue mountain barred with snow,
Across that angry or that glimmering sea,...

Posted by John Weidner at February 12, 2004 7:44 PM
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