Wednesday, March 01, 2006

"The End of Iraq"

The tragedy rolls on, reaching all corners.

We did not discuss Sunni or Shiite inside this mosque," said the sheik, Abdel Rahman Mahmoud, 74, whose courtyard was strewn with crushed blue glass and charred scraps of paper from the fire that sectarian rioters set last week. "People thought of us as neutral."

Here in the mixed neighborhood of Zayuna, Sunnis, Shiites and Christians live side by side, and residents always felt immune to sectarian violence. So when it exploded last Thursday, so did many dearly held beliefs.

"I used to keep in my mind that Iraq will come back one day," said Shirouq Abayachi, a Zayuna resident who was pondering her country's fate with friends in a social club in central Baghdad on Tuesday. "Now the Iraq I wish to have cannot come back. There is no core left to rebuild."


Iraqis in Zayuna wanted desperately for it not to be true; the phrase "Iraqis are brothers" was on everyone's lips. Once they had glimpsed the underside, many turned away, not wanting to see, but some, like Ms. Abayachi, seemed transfixed.

"Maybe I see the end more clearly now," she said over a lunch of salads and a cocktail. "The end of Iraq."

One way or another, Mr. Bush's adventure was always destined to be remembered as historic. It appears very likely, now, that it will be so-remembered for all the wrong reasons.


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