Ethnic Cleansing Inc.
The Eye-Rack civil war is providing new business to professional movers in that country:
Iraqi movers are front-line witnesses to the violent purges that are transforming this capital's once-diverse neighborhoods into a mosaic of hamlets cordoned off by religious sect. At great personal risk and for very little money, they race through hostile territory to help families pack heirlooms and electronics in the minutes before fleeing.
The movers' callused hands and sad eyes betray the hardships of a job that brings to life a grim United Nations statistic: Sectarian violence displaces 1,000 Iraqis each day.
"All this moving isn't just changing the character of Baghdad. It's destroying it," said Abu Zaid, a third-generation mover who was too scared to give his full name.
In 1941, Abu Zaid's grandfather bought a red Dodge pickup, said to be the first kind of truck that Iraq imported, and established a family moving business. Abu Zaid's father added a white Mercedes truck in the 1980s to deliver furniture to Sunni and Shiite residents in upscale, mixed-sect neighborhoods.
Now, Abu Zaid said, his own yellow Hino truck is reversing his family's work, depopulating the very neighborhoods that his father and grandfather helped to fill.
"We lived for years without thinking about what's a Sunni or what's a Shiite," he muttered with bitterness.
Abu Zaid, a towering, rotund man, stood Tuesday at an informal gathering place for movers along a main road that links the predominantly Sunni western part of Baghdad with the majority-Shiite east side.
Iraqis intimidated into leaving their homes cruise this strip to find movers whom they can trust to be discreet, quick and fearless. Sometimes, the movers said, customers lie about where they live, worrying that they'll be turned down because their neighborhoods are rife with snipers and fake checkpoints.
Relatively safe trips to Karrada or Zayuna run from $35 to $50 an hour; forays into the deadly districts of Jihad, Doura, Ghazaliyah or Ameriya can fetch $200 an hour or more.
"Once - only once - I went to Jihad," recalled Abu Zaid, 30, who's a Shiite. "It was to move in a Sunni woman who had to leave a Shiite neighborhood. The minute we reached Jihad, clashes broke out between Interior Ministry commandos and insurgents. All I could do was dump the furniture and get out of there.
"I parked in an alley and went to ask a policeman how I could escape. He told me, `OK, go back to your truck and when I give you the sign, make a run for it.'"
Read the whole thing. Then ask yourself how the three year occupation could have prevented this fact of life from happening. Then ask yourself how continuing our presence in that country is going to help the situation. While the wise men and politicians pat themselves on the back over the ISG report, the country burns.