01 October, 2020

Smog Of War

Amid footloose missiles and emphatic denials, the US may have lost too much in the battle for Iraqi minds

Smog Of War
The blood-red sky which hung heavily over the Al Shaab market was full of foreboding. Al Shaab is a tatty little corner of Baghdad; ordinary, poor, occupied by shopkeepers and car mechanics, a long way from the grand palaces and government buildings that dot the south bank of the river Tigris. They must have expected to escape the worst of the war. For two days Baghdad had been swallowed by the biggest sandstorm in living memory. The fine, ruby-coloured, choking sand was causing chaos in the city, day had turned to dusk and everything was breaking down. But it was still daytime and, until Wednesday, we had all assumed here in Baghdad that going outside would be safe. So Al Shaab was busy. Busy with shoppers and families and those with nothing to do but hang around the street corners and gossip about the American advance towards the capital. That too was being snarled up by the incredible blizzard.

My taxi driver told me that morning with a triumphant grin, as he drove me to the ministry of information, "The weather has come from God." But the missiles that hit Al Shaab an...



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